THE Presidential Rural Poultry Scheme this week spread its tentacles to Manicaland where a batch of fully vaccinated 12 000 organic chickens were distributed in Mutasa District as part of the climate smart intervention to improve household nutrition and income.
Government is supporting small-holder farmers in the area of crop production, livestock production and fisheries.
Poultry, together with goat production, have been identified as key climate-proofed livestock production system for farmer resilience during climatic shocks as enunciated in the Livestock Growth Plan.
The first phase will see the distribution of 32 000 chicks across the province, coupled with requisite technical skills in animal health, feeding and management to make it a resounding success.
The programme was launched on Tuesday by Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Nokhutula Matsikenyere.
Minister Matsikenyere implored beneficiaries to take good care of the birds for the improvement of household nutrition and income.
Minister Matsikenyere said each beneficiary received 10 four-week-old chicks, 10kg of poultry free range starter feed and a vitamin stress pack.
The remaining households will benefit from pass-on schemes until all rural households are covered.
“The scheme will see communities becoming hubs for organically produced live chickens, eggs and chicken meat in the next two to three years.
“Priority in the distribution of the poultry should include vulnerable groups, women and youth headed families. All the chicks being distributed have already been vaccinated,” she said.
Selection of the beneficiaries is conducted by the respective provincial, district and ward committees with guidance from Agritex.
“The selection must follow laid down guidelines. Ward input committeesshould do the selection of the beneficiaries and make sure everything is transparent. The beneficiaries must undergo training, which must include all aspects of rearing, disease control and best management practices,” said Minister Matsikenyere.
“The beneficiaries must make sure that the chicks are well looked after. No one should sell or eat the chickens before they fully mature and start laying eggs.
“I implore all beneficiaries to ensure that the rural poultry programme is for the community development, women and economic empowerment so as to commercialise the entity,” she said.
The Presidential Rural Poultry Programme is coming to boost poultry production as the latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) Rural 2022 Livelihoods Assessment Report—which is used to inform and guide policies on food and nutrition in the country— noted that at national level, about 70 percent of the households have poultry.
At 82 percent, Midlands has the greatest poultry, while Mashonaland Central has the lowest at 53 percent.
Seventy percent of Manicaland households have poultry.
Beneficiaries who spoke to Post Business said poultry is most suitable for their semi-arid and drought prone rural communities.
Manicaland is now characterised by low and highly variable rainfall that makes crop production in some districts unproductive.
The climate smart interventions are therefore expected to cushion the people in areas receiving low rainfall.
Mrs Cecilia Teku-Bande said if done properly, poultry production is a viable farming option that can enhance food security, nutrition and poverty elimination through income generation.
“We need to diversify our livelihoods to spread and minimise the risk. We should not be blinkered to think crop farming is the only means to sustain ourselves.
It has been letting us down as our region is drought prone.
“We thank President Mnangagwa for transforming our mindsets to realise that animal breeding can be what the doctor has prescribed for dry prone regions. Poultry production can bring positive change in our lives. We can produce roadrunners at a commercial scale and eliminate hunger and rural poverty,” she said.
Director for Livestock Production and Development in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Mr Alban Mhindurwa said 12 000 chickens were distributed in Mutasa, but the province has been allocated 32 000 birds.
“Manicaland will be getting 32 000 chickens which will be given to vulnerable groups, among them child-headed families, the elderly and people living with disabilities.
“This is a climate smart livestock production system aimed at mitigating climatic shocks.
“We are aware of the dry spells ravaging the nation, and President Mnangagwa saw it fit to uplift the livelihoods of the rural population through this programme.
A rural poultry aggregation model will be promoted for improved marketing of the rural poultry and products that include fertilised eggs, chicks, pullets or meat.
“Respective provinces, districts and wards will select places where chicks will be delivered. These places should be easily accessible to households within each ward,” he said.
— Manica Post