ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has released more than K100,000 to support commercial production of local chicken breeds in Eastern Province as a supplementary activity to crop cultivation.
Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, has provided K175, 000 to Petauke District Farmersâ€™ Association to enable members to start rearing local breeds, popularly called village chickens.
The ministryâ€™s smallholder agribusiness promotion programme empowers farmers through grants to venture in small agriculture-related projects as a stepping stone out of poverty.
According to the ZNFU brief availed to the Daily Mail on Friday, the rearing of village chickens has been a challenge for most smallholder farmers in the district due to lack of adequate knowledge on vaccinations and disease control, poor management practices on feeding and housing, lack of better market facilitation and non-availability of improved breeds.
â€œTherefore, this project will aim at resolving these problems, which are a hindrance to the production of village chickens. The grants will help farmers improve the production levels of village chickens among small-scale farmers through increased number of births per hen per year.
â€œThis will further increase income levels for small-scale farmers through improved and coordinated market facilitation and linkages systems, the introduction of better breeds and enhanced management practices such as housing, feeding and disease control,â€ the union says.
Petauke is predominantly a groundnut-growing district and the adopting of local chicken breed production will help sustain household incomes in times of poor crop yields.
Meanwhile, Farmers in Choma have praised the Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) for the construction of a tobacco floor sales shed in the area.
â€œThis development is a great relief for the tobacco farmers as the huge cost of transporting tobacco outside the province will be cut as the crop will be marketed locally. Most of the farmers have pledged their continued support to the tobacco industry by making best use of the structure once in operation,â€ ZNFU says.
Commenting on the development, TAZ regional tobacco inspector Thomas Chirwa, however, said that less tonnage is expected to be recorded this season compared to last season due to a number of factors such as the dry spell that was recorded in most parts of Southern Province in the 2015/16 farming season.
State releases K100,000 for village chicken
ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka