Presidential Rural Poultry  Scheme to increase incomes, nutrition Dr Anxious Masuka

Sharon Shayanewako

AT least 1, 8 million rural households will benefit from the Presidential Rural Poultry Scheme which is set to be rolled out soon in the country’s eight rural provinces.

This came out the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development’s report on the state of preparedness for the 2022/2023 cropping season.

The poultry scheme is set to increase rural income and alleviate poverty through commercialising rural poultry production.

The scheme requires rural households to use and apply their knowledge of rearing indigenous poultry, popularly known as the road runners, which will later be sold leaving the people economically empowered.

“Rural households used to keep their road runners for meat and eggs to supplement their diet occasionally and rarely for sale.

They now have to do it as a business to make sure they will be financially stable while also increasing livestock in Zimbabwe,” read part of the report.

In the report Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka explained that the Presidential Rural Pass-on Scheme aimed to commercialise Rural Poultry Production, increasing rural incomes while providing household protein source.

“The scheme will involve the distribution of free-range poultry chicks to at least 1,8 million rural households in groups over a period of five years. The first group of beneficiaries is expected to pass on 10 two-months old chicks to the second group of beneficiaries who will in turn pass on to the third group of beneficiaries until all the 1, 8 million households have benefited,” he commented.

Each household will get 10 rural chicks, 10kg rural chick mash and one sachet of vitamin stress pack in all country’s eight rural provinces. The first beneficiaries will each get 10 unsexed chicks, 10kg free range poultry starter mash and one sachet of vitamin stress mix pack per each household.

The breeds of chicken will include Boschveld, Sasso, Kuroiler and indigenous chicken, among others.

The distributed chicks are expected to start production five months after distribution.

The Poultry Scheme, which is set to provide a new revenue stream for rural families, comes as a huge benefit to rural communities who usually do not have any commercial activity after harvesting.

To give traction to the programme, agriculture extension officers will also undergo an in-service refresher training course on rural poultry production and proceed to capacitate all beneficiaries through regular training and advisory services in rural poultry production. The training will cover aspects of housing, feeds, disease and breed management of rural poultry.

The programme will be rolled out at an estimated cost of US$24 000 with Phase 1 targeting 225 000 households in 2022 in all provinces and Phase 2 targeting 225 000 households in 2023.

The benefiting households have the responsibility to ensure that the chickens are protected and well fed to ensure the programme’s success.

Department of Livestock Production and Development director Alban Mhindurwa said indigenous birds were easier for farmers to manage because they are rarely affected by diseases and have more resilience to health problems.

“Presidential Rural Poultry Scheme 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”, he said.

Mr Mhindurwa added that farmers should be taught a business approach especially for the Rural Poultry Farming programme and take it seriously to upgrade their living standards through selling the chickens.

“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.”

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