By Roy Nkosi:
Rearing chickens at household level is a practice passed on from one generation to another.
Although every household has the potential to rear chickens, especially local breeds that can be tamed on free range, many people are not keen to rear them in abundance.
As a result, the duty to rear chickens is largely left to commercial farmers; hence, making an egg relatively expensive to the average Malawian.
But from recent years, government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, has been empowering households in Chiradzulu to seriously venture into poultry farming through the Village Challenge Fund (VCF).
Angela Banda, for example, a mother of three from Nakoli Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mpama in the district joined Talandira Poultry Group in 2015.
“The group started with 15 people and we were given 150 chickens. I personally received 10 chickens but now I have 71 chickens.
“We were required to pass on to other farmers double the number of chickens we received. I gave out 20 chickens to two farmers,” she explains.
Banda says since she ventured into poultry farming, her livelihood as well as those of other members have significantly improved.
“I have done many things like buying goats and guinea fowls using profits from chicken sales. All these livestock are a source of manure and money to me. I lack nothing now,” she says.
Banda adds that even broiler chicken husbandry is very rewarding.
“I am paying my children’s school fees with money realised from the chickens. I eat a variety of food now. I reduced the burden of buying food and groceries off my husband’s shoulders. My children are healthy because they eat nutritious food,” she adds.
The success of Banda and fellow members of Talandira Poultry Group would not have been possible without VCF.
VCF is an open financing mechanism for channeling funds in a one-off non-reimbursable arrangement to eligible groups in rural areas.
Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, bankrolls the fund.
Banda says Talandira Poultry Group received K3 million capital from the VCF.
“We used the money to buy iron sheets for 23 kraals; we also bought land and we are currently building a shop and an office.
“The project has done so much for us. I am going to work hard and ensure that everyone in the group has vaccinated his or her chickens,” she says.
“I am also going to make sure that the shop is finished in time,” adds Banda, who is the chairperson of the grouping.
Looking forward, Banda says the group intends to buy materials such as refrigerators and solar panels for their shop.
“We also intend to start paying school fees for some secondary school students,” she says.
Agriculture Extension Development Officer for Mbulumbuzi Extension Planning Area, Margret Nkuziona, explains that when VCF was introduced to the area, people eagerly embraced it.
She says when local chickens were given to the households, her office thought the project would not have much impact because people were used to projects that help them with hybrid chickens for meat or eggs.
“The project showed that it is benefitting the people so much that in the same year, they started giving out the chickens to the other farmers so that they can also benefit,” Nkuziona says.
She further says about 1,000 people benefit every year in Mbulumbuzi where soya farming, bee-keeping and chicken husbandry are practiced in farmer groups under VCF.
“VCF allows the farmers to do modern farming like conservation agriculture and train the farmers on good agriculture practices.
“The programme assists farmers with livestock production and crop production. The products from livestock farming assist the farmers in finding fast manure which boosts their harvest even when there is drought,” she says.— Mana
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