Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
BULAWAYO-BASED women and girl child empowering non-governmental organisation, Upfumi Kumadzimai-Inotho Kubomama will soon rollout an extensive free range chicken programme aimed at improving livelihoods in poverty-stricken communities.
Upfumi Kumadzimai-Inotho Kubomama programmes co-ordinator Mrs Nonceba Mwedzi-Agwaniru said the organisation had acquired a state-of-the-art incubator for the hatching of free range chickens popularly known as nkukhu makhaya or “road runner” eggs to kick-start the poultry project. The gas egg incubator has the capacity to hatch 2 000 eggs per day.
“We are networking with a number of organisations and to this end we have managed to get in touch with Native Breeders and purchased an incubator from them, which we hope to be utilising in the next two weeks. We are looking forward to embarking on an indigenous chicken project starting in the Matabeleland region before spreading it to other areas. Native Breeders will supply us with the eggs for the pilot project,” said Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru.
The organisation has entered into an agreement with Umthunzi we Themba Children’s Orphanage to utilise the institution’s fowl run and 10 hectares to embark on a horticultural project. Umthunzi we Themba’s fowl run has the capacity to handle 10 000 chickens.
“We have been assisting some children at Umthunzi we Themba to pay schools fees as well as buying them school stationery for sometime thus we engaged the institution’s management for the use of their fowl run so that we can be able to assist the children from the little we will be realising from the poultry project.
“The institute has also given us the green light to utilise 10 hectares at its disposal to embark on a horticultural project. We will initially roll out chicks to institutions of the less privilege which we support as well as members of the community through contract farming with only 40 percent going towards expenses incurred in running the project,” said Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru.
The organisation said the decision to embark on an indigenous chicken project was reached after realising that it was less capital intensive.
Having the chickens roaming freely all day enables them to search out much of their own food. They will find insects, berries, grubs and greens to fill their stomachs and in turn one does not have to supplement as much in the way of feed. Free range chickens are also not susceptible to various diseases that affect broilers.
“We are optimistic that this project will improve livelihoods of most poverty stricken families in communities,” said Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru.