TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka
THE poultry industry is becoming a significant contributor to the quality of life and economic development of developing countries such as Zambia.
Global growth is projected to strengthen from 3.8 percent in 2017 to 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2019, to be mainly driven by anticipated pickup in growth in emerging markets.
Growth in sub-Saharan Africa is also expected to rise gradually during 2018 to 2019 to 3.4 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, as the challenging outlook for commodity exporters improve.
It is for this reason Government has continued to closely monitor the importation of competing poultry and poultry products, especially in the wake of the avian influenza and outbreak of listeriosis.
The monitoring will help create a conducive environment for the sector’s growth and significantly contribute to employment creation.
Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Kampamba Mulenga notes that Government recognises the poultry sector’s contribution to the economy at both household and national levels.
Ms Mulenga says the common goal is to ensure that the country attains self-sufficiency in poultry and poultry products as well as nutrition security.
“We also share the Poultry Association of Zambia (PAZ)’s aspiration to double the size of the sector while maintaining profitability, disease-free status and affordable products by ensuring that consumers benefit by getting the best value for their money.
“Government’s desire is that the poultry industry’s good performance is translated into job creation, growth in export earnings and increased value addition, among others,” she said.
In an effort to support the growth of the sector, Government has also included poultry inputs such as day-old chicks, stock feed and veterinary consumables under the electronic voucher system.
PAZ, however, observes that this year started on a challenging note with erratic supply of day-old chicks in almost all provinces.
The association’s former national chairperson, Rhodnie Sisala, noted that during the first and second quarter of this year, the industry faced unpreceded demand for day-old chicks.
Mr Sisala attributed the challenges concerning the supply of the chicks to hatchery specifics.
“The number of dead chicks during this period in the previous years are over five million in 2016 to about 3.3 million in 2017, while this year, there have been no reports. These figures translate into huge losses on the part of hatcheries,” he said.
Between 2016 and 2017 the sector recorded positive annual growth rates mainly driven by the broilers, exotics and layers.
The industry recorded a growth rate of eight percent in broiler production from 77.3 million day-old chicks in 2016 to 83.4 million in 2017.
Equally, pullet production also increased by eight percent much of which was towards the third and fourth quarters of 2017.
However, egg production recorded a three percent reduction to 37.6 million trays from 38.2 million the previous year.
PAZ attributes the decline in egg production to a drop in pullets recorded in 2016.
Mr Sisala believes that the sector’s growth is mainly driven by high demand for poultry on account of higher prices of other meat products such as beef, pork and mutton.
“The increase in demand for poultry meat, table eggs and their processed products further stimulated expansions in the up-stream production of day-old chicks, high demand for chicken compared with demand for other meat products,” he said.
Despite the positive growth rates, the sector is faced with several challenges such as unregulated fees and levies by district councils, which are increasing costs to the industry and making it uncompetitive.
Other challenges are lack of extension services and poultry restocking, which is affecting the growth of the sector especially in rural areas.
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) says there is need for poultry industry players and Government to work together to sustain the growth of the sector by finding lasting solutions to both production and marketing challenges.
ZNFU president Jervis Zimba is also advising the sector players to develop new markets in addition to the domestic ones.
Mr Zimba notes that as the farmers’ mother body, the union will always play a supportive role to PAZ to continue fostering sustainable growth of the poultry industry.
“This should go hand in hand with investing in producing value-added poultry products, especially for exports. In this regard, it is evident that small-scale poultry producers face huge challenges which need special effort to address,” Mr Zimba said.
He urged sector players to also stop giving conflicting statements on the issues affecting the industry to Government to foster growth.
Mr Zimba also urged Government to guard against individual interested parties but pay more attention to the issues coming out of the bigger mouth pieces such as associations.
Despite the numerous hiccups, the outlook of the sector remains positive buoyed by relatively positive fundamentals in the economy.
Government should therefore pay more attention to the sector’s needs through line ministries.
Through close collaboration with the key sector players, it can address the challenges being faced by poultry sector.
This is important because poultry production has proved to be an effective poverty reduction tool at household level and driver of economic growth at macro level.
TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka