A chicken in every pot

2010-07-16 00:00

THE enthusiasm of participants is palpable. Florence Ngcemu stands up and says: “All the time that we have had these chickens around us, we did not realise how important and useful they are.” This was said during the formal course that is associated with the start of the project initiated in the Umzimkhulu area to improve the productivity­ of the local village’s traditional Zulu chickens.

The course was held at the training facilities of the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute (KZNPI). Dr May Mkhize, the provincial premier’s wife, attended the closing ceremony of the course and gave out certificates to participants­.

The project is a collaboration between the KZNPI and myself. Absa Bank provided the needed funds to carry out such a project.

Fourteen families in four areas­ around Umzimkhulu (Hopewell, Clydesdale, Ntlambasoka and White City) took part in the project. The aim is to produce enough chickens so that participating families can eat one chicken a week and still have some to sell. There should also be enough eggs for household consumption and for sale.

A one-day workshop on the keeping of suitable records has also taken place and a farmers’ day, midway through the project, will be held where the project participants can share experiences and learn from one another. A prize will be given to the most improved chicken farmer.

Members of the Church Agricultural Projects (Cap), who have already been involved for some years in a similar project in the Msinga area, will be invited to participate in the farmers’ day.

Zweliphi Sithole, an extension officer with the Department of Agriculture at Umzimkhulu­, is providing invaluable assistance­. He has vast experience in the area­ and, in 1997, successfully completed the five-month poultry management course at KZNPI.

This is a pilot project. It is hoped that its success will enable this project to expand, and other similar projects to start in other parts of the province, as well as the rest of the country.

It should fit in well with the KwaZulu- Natal­ provincial programme titled One Home, One Garden, One Sloek (chicken hok or pen). In reality the project is already a success: participants have had their minds opened to looking at their chickens in a different light and to various ways of managing their chicken production differently, but within the overall context of the existing system.

Chicken pens where the chickens can sleep at night are in the process of being built. This is already a great improvement.

• Dr Ed Wethli is a consultant with experience in rural and peri-urban small farmer development.

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