Zimbabwe government to continue supporting small-holder poultry farmers as part of efforts to consolidate their contribution to growth of agriculture industry, government official says

CAPE TOWN, South Africa , November 23, 2012 () – Government will continue supporting small holder poultry farmers as part of efforts to consolidate their contribution to the growth of the agriculture industry, a senior Government official has said.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Mr Ngoni Masoka said the poultry industry was rapidly growing. In a speech read on his behalf by principal director in the livestock department, Mr William Shereni, during a small-scale producer's conference organised by Zimbabwe Women and Small Livestock Farmers Trust on Wednesday, Mr Masoka said the poultry industry was one of the fastest growing agro sectors in the country. He said the industry targeted to produce 72 million-day-old chicks compared to 52 million chicks produced last year. Government, said Mr Masoka, was prepared to intensify efforts towards helping small-holder farmers achieve high production levels.

"Government is aware of problems of small-scale producers when it comes to exploitative tendencies under contract farming arrangements," said Mr Masoka.

"With the establishment of the Agricultural Marketing Authority Government will ensure that contractual agreements are balanced to avoid exploitation. As a ministry we believe in that development of small scale producers can result in increased productivity, improved incomes, employment creation as well as food and nutrition security."

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union President Mr Wonder Chabikwa said his organisation was in the process of pushing for funds to smoothen activities in the sector. Small-scale poultry farmers recently appealed to Government for assistance in securing processing facilities and markets for local chicken as competition from cheap imports continues to grow.

Deputy director economic affairs and modelling in the Ministry of Economic Planning, Mr Brighton Shayanewako urged farmers to fully take advantage of the Medium Term Plan.

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