Staff Reporter WINDHOEK – Vast numbers of rural farmers have been turning to poultry farming in the past few years after realising the dividends that could be reaped from what started out as a hobby. This new trend resulted in poultry becoming the second biggest contributor to the Namibian agricultural production value chain by bringing in N$850,653 million last year– a big increase from N$535,965 million in 2016. More and more auctioneers are also incorporating poultry auctions and during the upcoming Biltongfees, more than 300 birds and chickens will be on display for the first time. Hannes Koekemoer, technical advisor at Feedmaster, says poultry farming comes with untapped business opportunities. A proper business plan and a bit of business flair is all that is needed to make that jump. Wouter Poolman of Africa Poultry Breeders in Windhoek says proper hygiene, secure housing and nesting, and a little care is all that is needed for successful farming with some of Namibia’s hardy chickens. With limited space, and basically any type of feed, these chicken breeds can produce in various ways. Raising day-old chicks and selling them later at different ages from four to ten weeks, is popular and a highly profitable way of chicken farming. Because only very limited infrastructure is needed. Raising hens to point of lay stadium is also hugely in demand, as well as keeping chickens for production of eggs, production of meat and to establish own breeding flocks. Poolman says low start-up costs and the possibility to begin with young chicks make it possible for virtually anybody, anywhere, even in towns and cities to farm with these chickens – you don’t need a farm. “We have put together various very affordable chicken farming units, which include chicken coops, brooder units for raising small chicks and nesting and sleeping cages. Prospective breeders or communities will be able to assemble mentioned units themselves and because it is not a fixed structure it can be moved wherever it is needed. This initiative will make it possible for the ordinary person to farm with chickens and earn a sustainable income while it could also be ideal opportunity for projects on a small to medium-scale basis,” he notes. There is a high demand for indigenous chicken in Namibia. Small-scale poultry farming has the potential to lead to rural industrialisation in the regions, especially with droughts threatening food security at house and national level. Most of the rural households in Namibia have always traditionally kept chickens for own consumption. This ‘indigenous knowledge’ factor is the comparative advantage government should take advantage of by planning targeted programmes to make this a reality. Women and youth in rural areas stand to benefit most from indigenous poultry farming. A business model, which allows the youth to take over the running of business systems while the women focus on production, could be viable. Indigenous chicken farming is less capital intensive, with low rate of disease outbreak as the breed is adaptable to the environmental conditions. They also require flexible feeding ratios and feed is easily sourced as it can be anything from mahangu to rice, insects and maize by-products, etc. It requires less veterinary services and infrastructure is simple and cost effective. Support should be in the form of availing start-up inputs as well as training in poultry management and husbandry. Until 2012, Namibia imported all its poultry products. Government under the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development (MITSMED) decided to protect the industry through quantitative restriction measures using the Import and Export Act. The quantitative restriction gives room for new poultry production initiatives to set themselves up without major threats from imports. Namibia’s total demand for poultry products per month is estimated between 3,500 and 4,000 tonnes. Namib Poultry Industry (NPI), presently the only broiler company in Namibia, is able to supply the domestic market with about 1,900 tonnes per month, about 50% of domestic demand. The quantitative restriction measures allow maximum importation of 1,500 tonnes per month. The protection had a positive impact in the poultry industry in the sense that many people see great opportunities to stimulate production and supply the domestic market.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-24 09:53:40 6 months ago