- Parent Category: Poultry Farming South Africa
- Published on 26 January 2012
- Hits: 171926
Challenges Facing Small Chicken Farmers in Africa
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Chicken farming in Africa has certain challenges, Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses will help you solve problems when chicken farming. Apart from the challenges that face all Poultry farmers around the world, South Africa, and Africa face other issues.
Here are some of the more common, especially for those small poultry farmers and new chicken farmers who have just started, or would like to start farming. As many farmers are farming in deep rural areas the following list is what problems you can expect. While these problems are also faced by farmers closer to towns and cities - the scope of the problems are smaller.
Water is one of the keys to any kind of farming. Fresh, clean running water is unavailable in many rural areas. This is by far the biggest challenge. Emerging farmers are forced to pay exorbitant costs for water connections and for a borehole to be drilled. Drilling companies charge very high prices to drill in remote locations.
While electricity may be seen as a luxury, when farming chickens in very hot or very cold areas, electricity is very important. While gas can be
Delivery of feed for chickens in remote areas is almost impossible. As many farmers are small farmers, the costs become prohibitive. Unlike large poultry farms, the small chicken farmer does not have the scale of benefits working on his or her side. Buying large quantities of feed presents its own challenge - cash flow being number one. Closely followed by storage and shelf life. The result is that the small farmer pays a much higher price per kilogram and must find a way to purchase feed regularly - without the benefit of a bakkie or truck.
As with feed, delivery and a close supplier of wood shaving for litter is a major problem. Farmers with access to bush lands can, and do, use grass cut from the bush - as long as the grass is not too dusty it works very well as litter - it does need to be changed more often than wood shavings though.
Delivery of product to customers
Once the small poultry farmer has solved and faced the basic challenges, and has managed to get together a successful crop, delivering the product to market becomes a problem. Broilers will need to be taken to market or delivered to customers every 4 - 6 weeks, whilst the egg farmer will need to get the eggs to market every 2 or 3 days. Bad roads and infrastructure also hinder deliveries and collections on small rural farms.
Many small farmers are hurt by corruption before they even start. Middlemen posing as Poultry experts often add huge margins for simply getting 3 quotes for government. Small farmers need every cent that is available to start a successful chicken farm. If the middlemen were not taking such huge margins, the farmer would be able to acquire items like fans and heaters, and add storage to their farms.
High costs for small quantities
Poultry farming is a very competitive business - buying feed, medication and supplies at a higher than average price is a sure way to fail. The economy of scale does not work for the small farmer - and less so if they are running a chicken farm from a rural area.
The lack of funding for secure fencing and secure storage forces small poultry farmers to pay guards or live next to their chicken house. All poultry sites should be secure before any building or faring proceeds. Adequate lock up storage is needed.
Whilst all farmers face this problem, the fact that in almost all rural areas there are free ranging African chickens. Without proper fencing and the correct training, disease becomes a bigger challenge. There are some farmers who also farm with pigs on the same property - while this is not a problem if the pigs and chickens are far from each other it can become a potential problem when the pigs and chickens are farmed close to each other. Medication and the delivery of medicines in remote areas is impossible. Access to qualified vets and experts makes medication chickens very difficult.
Many small farmers raise funds and dive into poultry farming without adequate training. Due to budget restraints, government funding does often not cover training. Training should be completed, and passed, before any money is given for the actual chicken project. Apart from leaning about poultry farming training MUST also include basic book keeping and business principles like cash flows and budgeting. As many of the recipients of government grants are illiterate or have a low level of education this challenge needs to be addressed. A good start is to read starting a poultry farm.
Co-ops and Projects with multiple members
Like any successful business, chicken farming requires dedication, long hours and high skill levels. It also require responsibility. The current method of giving government loans or government funding often forces people to form co-ops or group farms. While this may seem like a solid idea from the outside, it rarely works on the ground. Usually there is one or two driving people who have come up with the idea to farm (These are the entrepreneurs). They do all the ground work, training, applications and business plans. They are forced to find other members who are often not motivated, have unrealistic expectations, and are not willing to do the hard work required. As it is a group owned farm, real entrepreneurs are then hindered by having to have group consensus - often the voted for decision is not in the interests of the farm or business - but a group choice to pull money out. As many of the members have no experience in business or farming, the decisions that are made are seldom the right decision or direction. Like any business - it is driven usually by one persons vision and passion. If that person does not have the power to make hard choices the business usually fails.
Lack of Internet and basic communication tools and skills can be a problem. As many farmers are in remote location they do not have access to peers or mentors near them. Every farm should have access to the Internet and resources like the poultry forum, where they can network and talk to other small farmers, The sharing of knowledge and experience is critical to any successful farmer - especially the emerging farmer. Access to resources like www..africanpoultryfarming.co.za and www.chicken-farming.co.za can make or break a farmer. Finding products and prices, suppliers and customers can only be done on the Internet for those farmers who are hundreds of kilometres away from major centres.
Government loans and Government grants