The Sunday Mail
Heather Charema in Chegutu
Poultry farmers in Chegutu District have appealed for Government assistance in constructing fowl runs in a bid to benefit under the Command Poultry project targeting to improve the livelihoods of thousands of households countrywide.
The initiative, which is under the ambit of a $432 million Command Livestock programme, is also aimed at increasing poultry production in the country with a view to stimulate exports to neighbouring countries in the coming years.
About 500 farmers in Chegutu initially registered for the programme early this year, but only nine have since benefitted as the rest do not have proper infrastructure.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Chegutu District livestock specialist Mr Alois Pagute said a number of farmers are interested in Command Poultry but do not have standard fowl runs.
“In the first phase of the Command Livestock programme, quite a number of farmers had shown interest in the poultry programme, but we only gave out 28 800 broiler chicks to nine farmers,” he said.
“This was because most of the farmers did not have standard fowl runs, adequate water and feed equipment.
“Chegutu has the potential to produce more chickens if more fowl runs are built. In the first phase of the programme, the chick mortality rate stood at six percent and this was due to management challenges such as low temperatures.”
One of the beneficiaries of the Command Poultry programme, Mr Israel Chipiyo said Government should consider availing loans to capacitate the farmers with requisite infrastructure.
“Our main challenge is that most of us do not have proper fowl runs and equipment. We call upon the Government to assist in building more fowl runs so we can boost production.
“Loans should be made available for the farmers to set up the infrastructure.”
The Command Poultry programme is envisaged to create employment across the whole country.
Under the programme, farmers are expected construct standard fowl runs, show ability to secure water and set up feeding equipment before receiving the chicks.
Bio-security measures, which include fencing and the availability of a footbath, are required.
The Command Livestock programme is being financed by the Government and private sector and also covers agricultural activities such as fisheries and wildlife.