Writes; Tshepo Heqoa
The great challenges of the twenty first century are global in nature. Many of our African projects are increasingly in a crises of attaining sustainability- a prime influence toward economic growth. With the escalating food scarcities globally and nationwide, a tremendous need for sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship is inevitable.
Chicken Palace Feathers Farm is a partnership enterprise of three former Lesotho Agricultural College students with grand zeal towards broiler production. Buying chicks as day-olds from Machache Butchery, the chickens are kept for a period six weeks when they would have attained a relative mass of 1.8-2.0kg.
Broiler production has an incredible success potential in Lesotho, as it does in many SADC countries. Statistics indicate that less than 20% of the demand in our country is produced by local farmers, providing a peculiar picture of how crucial food security and entrepreneurship programmes are within our country. In many places where broiler production was well renowned are left empty and abandoned structures. It is against this ordeal that Chicken Palace Feathers Farm is lobbying for sustainability to all farmers in the purview of our country.
Mashea Motlatsi, a founding member of the broiler project shared the following details elaborately and most emphatically.
“One factor we would like to share with the public is that we work here as specialists. What we have realised is that there have been many broiler production projects which have failed to meet the ever rising demand. We hope that through our partnering, and our diverse skills, we may be able to make a great impact both here in the college and throughout the whole country.
To be more precise, the way we manage our chickens with regard to the mortality rate is exceptional, far beyond many common producers in the villages. We have ventured into this business possessing enhanced skills due to varied projects and the education we received regarding chickens throughout the three years of our studies. We have the needed knowledge which will help us to better run this project. Ultimately, we hope to work as extension workers providing the general public with tutorials on broiler production and management.”
These gentleman, Bonang Mphale, Mashea Motlatsi and Tankiso Pakela did not just attain the 3.5% mortality rate but made a series of consultation to certified vets who assisted them toward achieving better production standards preferred by catering firms and hotels like Avani. Such bodies feel free to buy from these farmers because of several technological aspects incorporated within their production.
There are however, a few challenges that this project encounters. Infections are always occurrences to worry about but zoonotic diseases are instances much to fear. A zoonotic disease is an infectious disease that is transmittable from an animal species to humans (or from humans to animals). The highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of Avain influenza is capable of causing death among humans and inflicting serious losses on poultry farmers. Earlier this year, many chickens were killed and many denied entrance into South Africa because of such diseases which sadly found free entrance in Lesotho. These deplorable instances have so much demi-graded our country in the eyes of the world.
The agricultural civilization has been at bay for a long time in Lesotho. Despite the fact that much of the education in our institutions is theoretical over empirical, these three young men are striving further to explore brighter horizons. Toward the end of their studies, a vacant college infrastructure (broiler) motivated a conception of a broiler business in their minds. This structure for which they were informed to provide a written application had remained obsolete for three years.
A more deeper frenzy of excitement comes with the knowledge that the reason for hiring the school’s property was largely to generate the start-up capital that would provide the capacity to buy a site outside of college property. A memorandum of understanding was therefore signed with the management of the institution stating the duration of the infrastructure lease. This included the terms and the conditions for the renewal of the contract every time they would restore a new batch. The rent per batch is M650.00 and still they aim to produce as much chicken meat as possible such that strict quotas will be placed on broiler entry at the border. The estimated profits from the first (450) batch is +/- M25 000.00.
Litaba Hlehlisi is also a retired Mosotho man who engaged in broiler production with the aim of achieving sustainability. Starting first as a member of an association he moved to be a sole trader due to many handful inconsistencies of the body. In this new sole venture he managed to retain all the 120 chickens without mortality occurrences. The secret was simple; optimum management, proper medical treatments, and simple techniques learned by broiler producers over the years. With the help of his son Sechaba Hlehlisi, also a former student at LAC he works cooperatively with Chicken Palace Feathers Farm to attain the market and proper health of the chickens.