AGCO Agriculture Foundation’s Poultry Project Empowers Farming Communities to Optimize the Growing Poultry Market in Zambia
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed difficulties facing Africa's poultry industry, including day-old chick price volatility, limited access to quality inputs, and lack of skills and knowledge of production and marketing. Alternatively, the pandemic has shown the potential of the poultry sector to help address food insecurity for millions of marginalized households.
AGCO Agriculture Foundation’s Poultry Project Empowers Farming Communities to Optimize the Growing Poultry Market in ZambiaThe coronavirus pandemic has exposed difficulties facing Africa's poultry industry, including day-old chick price volatility, limited access to quality inputs, and lack of skills and knowledge of production and marketing. Alternatively, the pandemic has shown the potential of the poultry sector to help address food insecurity for millions of marginalized households.
Leveraging Inclusive and Sustainable Poultry Production to Empower Small-scale Farmers
Last year, the AGCO Agriculture Foundation (AAF) launched a sustainable poultry production project in Zambia to help small-scale producers increase their sustainable and market-oriented poultry production and contribute to improved food, nutrition, and income security.
In Zambia, poultry farming serves as a major source of income and nutrition for more than 1 million farmers and households who keep chickens. In efforts to scale up sustainable and market-oriented poultry production, the AAF granted $150,000 to Self Help Africa to support local communities in Chongwe District in Lusaka Province, Zambia.
Supporting local farming households
At the start of the project, the initiative supported 150 small-scale farmers, both practicing and emerging, to increase their production, skills and income. With a two-month project expansion, an additional 100 local farming households were added to the project beneficiaries, bringing the total project duration to 12 months and almost doubling the project impact. Over 60 percent of the beneficiary farmers are women, and at least 20 percent are youth aged 18-35 years.
At the center of this project is the commitment to improve the agricultural prosperity and self-sufficiency of small-scale poultry farmers and their households through sustainable poultry production and a market-linkage approach.
“The poultry project has really helped people in our community. With increased incomes, we are using the profits to send our children to school,” says Tobias Mzombola, a poultry farmer in the Ndombwi area of Chongwe District.
During the project, Self Help Africa implemented tailored programs to enhance the knowledge and practices of participants, leading to better livestock management, increased access to quality inputs for better poultry production, and increased knowledge and skills to benefit economically and nutritionally from poultry farming.
The project beneficiaries each received three local hens and one kuroiler cockerel to make four birds per member of the four Commodity Producer Groups (CPGs) constituted for the project. Among each of the CPGs, 800 broilers were distributed to support their poultry rearing. After successfully selling the previous stock, the project increased to 1,000 broilers redistributed among the same CPGs. It also assisted with other resources, including feed and vaccines, and provides training such as poultry management, feed formulation, business management skills and nutrition education to change attitudes and consumption behaviors.
Training proves beneficial to participants
Kuzanayi Tembo, a female beneficiary, mentioned, “In addition to receiving both broilers and village chickens, she joined other participants to attend training on poultry house management, feed formulation and practical cooking demonstrations explaining the importance of nutrition education.”
Smallholder farmers like Tobias and Kuzunayi still faced a range of poultry rearing challenges, including limited access to extension services, vaccines and inputs to treat poultry diseases. However, Tobias explained that the knowledge gained from the training on better poultry housing and feed formulation had improved her farm hygiene, leading to a reduction in the incidence of poultry disease on the farm.
Poultry products, a boost for a youth-led cooperative
Poultry farming can serve as an essential social safety net for many marginalized households and rural people who face challenges such as the effects of unemployment, poverty and food insecurity.
A local cooperative, Lifted Youth Cooperative in Chongwe District, is among the project beneficiaries that received broilers and incubators, enabling them to hatch their chicks and offering hatchery services to other farmers within the district.
“Our cooperative members have benefited from the support and training provided through the project. In the past months, we have incorporated all lessons and recommendations from the training received, and we have seen a thriving poultry operation,” said Elase Mpande, a spokesperson for the Lifted Youth Cooperative.
He added that the group members have started to earn an income from the sale of chickens and eggs. Obby Mwanza, a cooperative member, shared, “The project has enabled the group members to understand better how to make good quality animal feed and administer vaccines for the chicks in the best way when it is needed.”
Improving poultry production to reduce poverty in rural Chongwe areas
Zambia’s poultry sector plays an increasingly significant role in the country’s economy and national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Changing diets among Zambians have increased poultry protein consumption. This shift in consumption pattern is also driven by the growing market demand for poultry, resulting in rising beef, pork and mutton prices.
To meet the ever-growing poultry protein demand and consumption, a small-scale focused poultry project can help create a sustainable approach to addressing hunger, enhanced income, and nutrition security, particularly for smallholder farming communities in Chongwe District.
At the project location in Chongwe District, Judith Nanyangwe expressed excitement at how she has been earning income from the sale of chickens and eggs.
“Like many other small-scale poultry farmers around Chongwe, the pandemic was a big shock for my poultry business. This project is timely, and it helped to gain new experiences in poultry and business management. As a result, I have secured a new market uptake where I sell my eggs for a price of 120 Zambian Kwacha ($6.61) per tray,” Judith said.
Small-scale farmers like Judith often experienced high production costs, which reduce their profitability and competitiveness within informal markets. Judith explained that the commodity producer group received chick incubators to store and hatch eggs, resulting in lower production costs and a clear understanding of the reproduction cycle from an egg to a chick.
The AGCO Agriculture Foundation and its implementing partner, Self Help Africa, have recorded impactful results within the project location areas in Chongwe. The project continues to empower marginalized farmers with additional sources of income through indigenous and exotic chicken breeds and ensuring access of smallholder farmers to more tailored poultry training, nutrition education programs and awareness activities like the weekly poultry radio show program.
This impact story was created to document and share on-the-ground knowledge from project beneficiaries in Zambia. This article capitalizes on farmers’ insights, impacts, and lessons from the 12–month sustainable poultry production project.