THE government should allocate more financial resources to the agricultural sector if the industry is to grow and tackle the numerous challenges it faces, and help in job creation as well as ensure food security.
This was said on Thursday by a Namibian poultry producer, Michael Mulunga, who runs National Poultry Enterprise, about 50 kilometres out of Windhoek.
He said the government should honour the Maputo Declaration on agriculture, where African Union members agreed to allocate at least 10% of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development.
Mulunga said poultry farming is a capital-intensive enterprise and there is a need for political will to support the the agricultural sector for it to grow.
“There is a need to protect the country from becoming a dumping ground for cheap poultry products from countries like Brazil where farmers have a competitive advantage because the produce chickens cheaply.
“Namibian farmers also need protection from a glut of cheap eggs from Zambia that are driving small producers out of business,” said Mulunga, who is a member of the Poultry Producers Association.
He also said there was a need for legislation to protect local poultry producers to grow the sector and support employment creation.
“Although there is a government-run poultry scheme in the country, the sector is still underfunded to spur growth,” said Mulunga, who breeds Sasso chickens, originally from France.
He also runs a small hatchery which supplies mainly small- and medium-scale farmers where he produces 2 000 chickens, 12 000 eggs and 5 000 chicks a week.
He described the Sasso as a dual purpose breed for eggs and meat, with a flavour between the broiler and the indigenous ‘road runner’ and it matures in eight to 10 weeks to reach 2,2 kilogrammes.
“It is a hardy breed with the genetic ability to survive under hard conditions and is resistant to a number of poultry diseases,” said Mulunga whose target market are small-scale rural and backyard farmers.
He markets his poultry through social media groups and through referrals.
Mulunga, who has been in the poultry industry for 10 years said he was driven by a love for chickens that he kept in his backyard. He attended the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute for intensive training on poultry production and health and also did more poultry courses in Egypt.
On his return, he started training other farmers and noticed a shortage of chicken equipment, chicks and incubators and started importing these from South Africa before starting his own venture with a loan from Agribank.
He said the biggest challenge is that the Namibian market is still small for his 40 000 chicks a week capacity.
“When we started operations, we flooded the market within three months and had to cut down on production. However, we still have overheads like high electricity bills for industrial incubators, which run for 24 hours,” he said.
Mulunga also said feed is expensive as it went up three times last year because of the Russia-Ukraine war. The two countries are big producers of yellow maize.
He advised those aspiring to join the sector to have love for the chicken industry as it is not a quick money-making scheme but a game of numbers.
“Educate yourself about bio security because chickens are creatures with the most number of diseases,” said Mulunga.
He said in the next five years, he plans to expand to produce feed and add value to the chickens to create a niche market for the Sasso.
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