Broiler and layer chick producers need to be insured to protect the farmer

15 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Broiler and layer chick producers need to be insured to protect the farmer

The Sunday News

A CASUAL discussion with a colleague inspired this week instalment. The colleague bought and raised 2 000 layer chicks from one of the big-name suppliers in town. He ploughed something into the region of US$10 000 to take the birds to the laying age.

He was now ready to start picking eggs and perhaps eventually start printing money as the enterprise oils itself into motion. Suddenly he lived his worst nightmare as only 60 birds from the 2000 flock laid eggs. Put in other words, he could only pick two crates from an expected 67 crates.

In other words, the product did not live up to its billing. He was forced to sell the birds as off layers even if they laid no single egg! Needless to say the supplier would have nothing to do with it, claiming some malfunctioning in the hatchery process and that it’s not their fault but the hatchery.


So, my colleague, the farmer had just to take it on the chin and hope to somehow recover from this set back.

There are many such cases especially in the poultry industry where farmers are short changed by the suppliers and the suppliers go Scot free with farmers left to lick the wounds and count the losses.

Last year I shared a typical case where a massive broiler producer in one district suffered a very heavy chick mortality which almost wiped the entire three thousand batch.


Again, the supplier blamed the hatchery, and they did not replace the chicks. I am sure there is a whole lot of similar but undocumented cases around with the same outcome of the farmer always shouldering the loss and the suppliers smiling their way to the bank.

They always get away with it because they know that most of these smallholder producers have no standard facilities and hence something from their facility can be conveniently blamed.

It could be your heating system, your ventilation itself, watering system and so on and they will blame that and completely absolve themselves of any blame. If that fails, they will blame the hatchery which supplies them the chicks and it ends there, with you walking away empty handed. It is my submission that this needs to be stopped. The ministry of agriculture needs to craft statutory instruments that protect farmers against such situations.


It should be compulsory for example for such suppliers to have the chicks covered by insurance such that when there is a malfunction of the product, the supplier can claim replacement. With such an insurance, the supplier who provided my colleague with disabled layer chicks which turned to be non- laying birds, could simply replace by offering him point of laying birds of the same number and that cost is covered by the insurance.

Same for broiler producers, a farmer who suffers a massive chick mortality which can be traced back to the hatchery can be given another batch of chicks including the feed and all that covered by the insurance. These are the farmer protecting statutory instruments that we need so that farmers are not just ripped off by suppliers.

I submit therefore that farmers unions and poultry producers associations should consider lobby government through the relevant ministry to compel suppliers of broiler and layers chicks or even point of laying birds, to be insured for every batch that goes out so that such unfortunate incidences can have a happy ending for all concerned. Imagine that my colleague lost something around US$10 000 simply because he got supplied a product which did not perform to expectation.

How do you recover from such an amount that you have ploughed into the enterprise for a defective product? It can never be fair that this farmer takes the fall for defective product which he had not part in creating and the manufacturer goes unscratched! I would rather have the price of chicks increase because of the insurance component but ensure that I am protected for such eventualities.

In addition to insurance cover, government should establish a standards body for such industries, where farmers can take their complains and the body investigates. In simple terms this industry needs to be regulated in a manner that protects the farmer as well.

Uyabonga umntaka MaKhumalo.

Mhlupheki Dube is a livestock specialist and farmer. He writes in his own capacity. Feedback [email protected]/ cell 077285125

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