AFRICA - Various projects and capacity enhancing projects are taking off in Africa to give support to poultry producers, in a bid to raise their output and deepen profit making in a regional industry that is staving off imports and rising feed-stock costs, writes Tawanda Karombo.
In Zimbabwe, producers have a new poultry breed that is sprouting up and which is helping rake in the profits. Quail bird production is the newest craze to hit Zimbabwe’s poultry industry.
Producers are finding quail production particularly lucrative because of the quail birds’ meat and eggs’ high nutritional value and high prices, according to experts. The quail birds are also relatively easy to raise and require a relatively smaller space compared to chickens.
“The quail business is very economical and it is likely to surpass other forms of poultry in the near future. Farmers are encouraged to take advantage of the high demand for the quail birds and grow their businesses,” said agricultural economist, Gift Hlazo.
By-products from quail production include the manure, which has high ammonium nitrate content and hence can be used as manure. The quail birds are also said to be better in resisting diseases as compared to chicken while they are also relatively cheaper to raise as they consume less.
In Tanzania as well as in Zimbabwe, poultry producers are adopting more and more the production of free-range or indigenous chickens. Although broiler production remains high, free-range chicken production is also on the rise owing to growing demand for its high nutritional value and natural contents.
In Tanzania, efforts are being made to re-organise the sub-sector and allow rural farmers to utilise their land for this. The University of Swaziland and the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Micro Finance Unit are carrying out a study on indigenous chickens’ responses to low cost and alternative feeds.
Swazi Agriculture Minister, Moses Vilakati said this month that the study was important as high feed costs for exotic chickens such as broilers are making production costs extremely high.
He said: “In Swaziland, mainstream commercial poultry production thrives exclusively based on hybrid and high production exotic breeds” that are fed on high energy concentrate feeds.
“The sub-sector has not been growing in a formal manner for decades, the reason being poor feeding, inappropriate housing, lack of health care, vulnerability to predators - such as wild cats and people’s attitudes towards the sub-sector,” said Tanzanian livestock development official, Deo Chaze.
Official figures from Tanzania show that out of the 3.7 million people involved in the country’s agriculture sector, more than half of them are involved in indigenous chicken production.
“Our local poultry farmers have, for ages, not been taking seriously the component of rearing chicken in modern ways, a situation brought about by lack of knowledge on poultry keeping techniques,” said livestock researcher, Eugen Lyaruu.
In north Africa, consumer patterns are shifting towards frozen food-stuffs such as frozen chicken.
According to a new report, in Algeria and Egypt the “frozen food market is expected to show growth owing to the shift in consumer consumption pattern from fresh food to frozen food such as frozen meat”.
Cairo Poultry Processing is cited as the leading player in the frozen food market in the north African country. The report says the company has a leading market share in the country as it produces frozen chicken product varieties while it also offers nuggets, wings, crispy chicken, and chicken burgers under branded options.
Africa’s second largest economy, South Africa is importing more of its poultry meat requirements from Brazil despite recently inking a deal with the United States of America under its AGOA policy. The value of poultry imported by South Africa in 2015 increased to $365.7 million, with Brazilian supplies accounting for about $132.8 million of this.
This represents a massive 36.3 per cent increase on the prior year contrasting period.
"The presence of a Brazilian expert in the country intensifies opening of negotiations for new markets and contributes to the study of strategic information, essential for the promotion of exports," said Tatiana Palermo, secretary for international agribusiness relations.
However, David Wolpert, chief executive officer of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of South Africa, has warned of a rise in prices of meat products such as chicken and eggs owing to drought conditions in the region although imports could also mean lower prices for local producers.
“Local chicken producers are still unhappy with the compromised deal with their US counterparts. Now they've moved on to castigating the quality and safety of imported chicken.
"They do this for two reasons: because more imported chicken on our shelves hurts their market share, and competition means more competitively priced produce and greater choice for consumers,” he said this week.