ED PFEE: President ED Mnangagwa to dish out free road-runner chicks to 3 million households

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AT least three million households will benefit from the revamped Presidential Rural Poultry Scheme that will see beneficiaries receiving 10 indigenous poultry chicks each as part of a targeted empowerment programme.

The chicks, numbering more than 30 million, will be 10-weeks-old.

Households will also get chicken mesh and stress packs.

The scheme, which is set to be launched this month, requires rural households to apply their knowledge in rearing indigenous poultry.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr John Basera said the programme was part of preparations for the 2022-23 season.

“In the report, we pointed out that rural households used to keep their road-runners for meat and eggs to supplement their diet occasionally and rarely for sale. But under this scheme, we want to change their mindset so that they now start to do it as a business to make sure they will be financially stable,” said Dr Basera.

“This is one of the climate-smart livestock production systems. It is not heavily affected by drought or diseases. If there is drought, you will never see a road-runner dying because of hunger. As a result, they are easy for farmers to manage.”

In a separate interview, chief director for Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services (AARDS) in the Ministry, Professor Obert Jiri, said breeds will include boschveld, sasso, kuroiler and indigenous chicks, among others.

“Each household will be receiving 10-week-old chicks, stress pack and chick mesh, starting with vulnerable households in the society selected by committees at ward level which include women, orphans, elderly and people living with disabilities, among others.

“We want to teach our farmers the art of business. They should treat poultry farming as a business by following whatever they are going to be taught to ensure that the programme succeeds,” he added.

It is envisaged that the scheme would help promote household food security and boost rural incomes.

“This will lead to increased production of meat and eggs. It will also improve household food security and nutrition and increase rural per capita incomes,” Prof Jiri said.

Beneficiaries, he added, will undergo training.

“Once the launch is done, the programme will be rolled out in all provinces, districts and wards, equitably. All farmers will be trained on good chicken husbandry practices before benefitting from the programme, as Government seeks to develop and commercialise indigenous chicken production through distribution of 30-million one-month-old chicks to three million households,” he said.

Government had initially targeted to support 1,8 million households through a pass-on scheme whereby the first group of beneficiaries was expected to pass-on 10 two-months-old chicks to the second group of beneficiaries, who would in turn pass-on to the third group within two years.

This has since been upgraded to three million beneficiaries, with 30-million chicks set to be supplied.

— Sunday Mail


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