|Come to our rescue, say small-scale poultry farmers|
|Thursday, 13 September 2012 00:00|
Small-scale poultry producers have appealed to Government for help to secure processing facilities and markets for local chicken products.
In an interview in Harare yesterday, Zimbabwe Women Poultry and Small Livestock Farmers executive director Mrs Teverai Chigogo-Nhapi said poultry farmers also wanted Government to enforce embargoes on chicken imports.
She said Zimbabwe produces five million broiler day-old chicks per month according to statistics obtained from the Zimbabwe Poultry Association.
More than 65 percent of these chicks, she said, were bought by the small-scale producers, 80 percent of whom are women.
“Lack of markets, low profitability, lack of value addition, high processing fees and high production costs necessitated by imported inputs such as soya, maize and additives and competition from the local producers are pushing small-scale producers out of business,” she said.
“We also face competition from imported frozen poultry from Brazil, Argentina and South Africa.
“Our situation is further worsened by the fact that we are price takers.”
Mrs Chigogo-Nhapi said small-scale producers were expending more than US$10m a month in feed and day old chicks.
She added that statistics on the actual number of birds finally slaughtered and sold by this sub-sector were not readily available due to lack of coordination.
“Because processing facilities are highly expensive, small scale producers usually opt to slaughter illegally.
“In so doing they avert Statutory Instrument 50/1995 Public Health (Abattoir, Animal and Bird Slaughter and Meat Hygiene) Regulations so their product is not well received on the market,” Mrs Chigogo-Nhapi said.
She said other countries fed their chickens with genetically modified grains, which are cheaper to grow hence the low cost of production and subsequent low prices of their exported frozen products.
ZWPSLF is a group of women that has 300 members in Harare and 1 000 members in Mashonaland West. They have the capacity to produce 60 000 birds at a time at their Darwendale Farm.
GMOs are illegal in Zimbabwe and farmers have to import non-GMO maize and soya making the cost of production high.
“Though we secure all inputs on cash basis, very few buyers are willing to pay cash for the finished product, which seriously impacts on our cash flow.
“Halaal certificates are also a barrier as some shops and restaurants insist on them before they buy frozen meat,” she said adding that most players in the sector were failing to repay loans from banks.
The country has on numerous occasions imposed bans on poultry imports but this has not been helpful as the market usually ran dry in no time creating the impression that there was not enough chicken yet small-scale producers would be stuck with quantities of the product.
It is estimated that 50 percent of local production is not evident on the market.
“At the moment we cannot sell to supermarkets because they want us to meet certain methods of slaughter and storage as stipulated by SI 50 of 1995 while some even want Halaal certified products,” she said.
ZPA chairman Mr Solomon Zawe echoed Mrs Chigogo-Nhapi’s sentiments saying smuggled cheap poultry products had flooded the market, which was pushing local producers out of business.
Some of the people are alleged to be selling 10kg of chicken for as little as US$18 — something that has even left demand for beef waning while local chicken products have not fared any better.
“We had agreed that only 1 000t of chickens be imported per month but I think there must be an extra 1 500t coming in as evidenced by the presence of containers selling chickens in almost every town.
“As ZPA we have engaged Zimra and the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development over the matter and they have both promised to investigate the issue,” said Mr Zawe.