Get organised: women poultry farmers urged

Lack of resources to set up slaughterhouses is stopping female poultry farmers from taking advantage of an improved business environment, says Teverai Chigogo, executive director of Zimbabwe Women Poultry and Small Livestock Farmers.

Zimbabwe Women Poultry and Small Livestock Farmers Executive Director, Teverai Chigogo.
Zimbabwe Women Poultry and Small Livestock Farmers Executive Director, Teverai Chigogo.

“It is very expensive to establish abattoirs that meet public health regulations and this makes it virtually impossible for smallscale poultry producers to enter the formal market,” she told The Zimbabwean.

“Farmers are getting very low profits because of this. Most farmers cannot meet the stipulated requirements on the processing of chickens, especially on how chickens should be transported, and this pushes them out of the sustainable formal market.”

In an interview, Chigogo said while the law protected consumers, there were some aspects that hindered progress in poultry production.

“Government’s agricultural policy is supportive of poultry issues but the challenge is that there are clauses within the same policy that block smallscale poultry producers from making it as equally competitive players in the poultry industry,” said Chigogo.

Statutory Instrument 50/1995 of the Public Health (Abattoir, Animal and Bird Slaughter) Regulation includes sections dealing with the audit and quality assurance of meat products.

It makes provisions for meat inspectors to enter abattoirs to check whether regulations, licensing and registration requirements are being met.

Chigogo said 65 per cent of the 5m broiler chicks produced in Zimbabwe every month were from smallscale farmers, 80 per cent of whom were women.

Chigogo cited an example where she reared 30,000 birds in 2010 and incurred a $15 000 debt in the process.

“Existing legislation makes it virtually impossible for us to access the market. Smallscale farmers are forced to sell their birds to established companies who dictate the price,” she said. “We are looking at a situation where we are able to group ourselves and establish an abattoir for smallscale farmers where they will not be charged exorbitant prices,” said Chigogo.

Established in 2011, ZWPSLF works in 22 districts countrywide. With a membership of 5,000 the organisation trains poultry farmers.

“(Our) thrust is to build the capacity of the farmers,” she said. “The market is there and, as smallscale producers, let us come together and get our stake in the industry. We cannot keep on being sidelined from realising meaningful returns from an industry in which we do all the work.”

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