Tanzania is set to make indigenous poultry keeping an important economic venture that could play a key role in poverty reduction in the country.
Already, the government has vowed to help small-scale chicken keepers to improve their livelihood following the successful MUVEK Development Solutions launch of Research Into Use (RIU) Programme knowledge outputs last week…
At the launch of the programme, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda commended RIU knowledge innovations in making indigenous poultry keeping an important economic activity that could help small-scale indigenous poultry keepers play a key role in the country’s poverty eradication strategy.
“Indeed Muvek through RIU have been an eye opener. By enabling small scale farmers to keep 100 to 400 chickens MUVEK and RIU have proved that indigenous chicken farming can be used for poverty eradication,” Pinda told his audience.
“I have taken note of this development....the high potential indigenous poultry keeping has for economic development at the grassroots. With all these stakeholders working together, as I have learnt during the exhibitions, there is no doubt that the sector can grow and our people can earn decent incomes up to three times a year,” he said adding, “ I promise the government’s taking up the lessons very seriously when planning. “
“I have also noted some challenges facing the sector which we will have to work on them as a government, for example, in lowering feed.”
Regarding complaints that farmers pay high taxes, Pinda said farmers are not supposed to pay tax but the buyers of their produce.
MUVEK board chair, Sokoine University of Agriculture Prof. Lusato Kurwijila was categorical that a sub-sector like indigenous chicken farming, if promoted adequately, it would enormously improve the lives of ordinary Tanzanians, as it is a conducive business in vast parts of the country.
He said it was a fallacy to think that exotic chickens or the so-called improved breeds are better in commercialization than indigenous ones.
“What we need is just to promote innovations in the sector and do the indigenous poultry keeping professionally. With proper management they take about three months to mature, and are better suited than the exotic breeds,” Prof. Kurwijila said.
A poultry farmer from Rufiji, Maimuna Mkongea, told Preme Minister Pinda that before Muvek and RIU reached Rufiji, she could not afford life since she could only keep up to 20 chickens in her kitchen. She could not pay for her children’s education either.
“After MUVEK assistance I started increasing my chicken and recently I sold 300 chickens and opened a bank account for the first time in my life at age 61,” said the poultry farmer.
“This has changed my personal financial life for the better. I urge all development actors to empower the rural poor…. Come and help us learn the improved ways and then facilitate us to uuse the skills because we can, we are not lazy, we just lack technical and financial capacity,” Maimuna said.
According to the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development, Tanzania has a total of 50 million chickens of which 35 million are of indigenous breeds while the remaining 15 million are exotic.
“My ministry at least has come up with a vaccine that is manufactured in the country and has proved to be effective,” said Deputy Minister Benedict ole-Nangoro,
He said before the vaccine 90 percent of indigenous chickens would die but now it is only four percent that is dying.
“Indeed, the ministry is proud of RIU’s achievements and lessons, and we see a lot of potential in the sector as it is easier to manage and with relatively less administrative hassles and conflicts as we see in other industries. So the ministry will take the lessons and upscale to cover more rural people," ole Nangoro told Prime Minister Pinda and stakeholders in the indigenous poultry industry.
Vera Mugittu, Muvek managing director said the majority of Tanzanians labour in uncompetitive informal sectors, which translates into the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing but poverty at the grassroots remaining a growing challenge.
“If we won’t concentrate in upgrading capacities in the informal sectors and businesses where most Tanzanians and the poor are, the GDP will keep on growing but we will really not be able to do away with poverty,” she said.
“What I mean is, the 80 percent of Tanzanians who currently live in the rural areas must be enabled to contribute 80 percent of the GDP growth, else we shall not eradicate poverty in the country,” she added.
“However, working with the informal sector requires a daring support from the government to offset risks associated with subsistence production and rural poverty, and meet the social cost of establishing the minimum institutional arrangements and incentives that make a sector viable and attractive for private sector investment.
She said “using public funds from the British international financial agency (DFID), Muvek managed to take local chicken keeping to a stage where it is recognized as an important economic venture, and now we see private sector investment in the industry increasing. However, so many challenges remain that need to be addressed at policy level, before the sector is fully competitive and self-sustaining.”
Three policy briefs on how to improve the subsector were presented at the two-day seminar and at its end, the stakeholders agreed on the following:
Taking the poultry industry to scale should be adopted as a government vision at policy level. This includes government actively embracing the promotion of commercialization of the indigenous poultry keeping in its strategies for poverty reduction, as well as ensuring that all stakeholders embrace the strategy of putting to scale all interventions in the indigenous poultry sector that seek to exploit the potential benefits of the multi-pronged technological approach (for instance housing, vaccination, feeding, protection from predators, extension services provision), and done in a coordinated and harmonised manner.
The government should deliberately strategize to boost investment in the industry. That includes the government setting up a special fund under the economic empowerment program, specifically for empowerment of indigenous poultry stakeholders as it is already done in other sectors like horticulture, malaria and HIV/AIDS. The government should also provide indirect financing through subsidizing vaccinations against major and emerging poultry diseases as it has been the case in other subsectors like accaricides and fertilisers.
The government is advised to ensure that poultry is mainstreamed in the on-going and future agricultural sector programmes such as the Marketing Infrastructure Value Chain Addition and Rural Finance (MIVARF), Agricultural Sector Development Programme 11, Tanzania Social Action Fund and others.
Access to quality poultry extension should be achieved by ensuring that Local Government Authroties (LGAs) recruit all trained extension staff to ensure that every village has an extension worker. Then, LGAs should retrain and re-tool all extension workers to build competences in poultry.
It was also recommended that the government reviews the current curriculum to suit the needs of a commercialised poultry sector. This includes skills in management of commercial hatcheries and poultry breeding farms.
The current curriculum is not business oriented. Specifically, the government should mainstream training of poultry keepers in LGAs, under the capacity building grants of ASDP wherever indigenous poultry programs are introduced.
To achieve this, the government should reinforce the animal feed Act including establishment of a regulatory authority to oversee the livestock feed industry and strengthening of livestock feeds quality assurance and control system.
The government should also promote commercial production of non-conventional feed resources like soybean, millet and sorghum, with a special attention to developing efficient seed systems as well mapping existing idle grain storage capacity and make them accessible for use by the private sector for storage and distribution of feed resources.It was also found important that the government develops specific feed formulations for indigenous chickens.
To start with the government is asked to bring all players in the sector together as soon as possible to discuss and initiate a process of forming an apex organisation.
The meeting was attended by senior government officials from different ministries, LGA staff, researchers, members of academia, private sector and development partners.
After the meeting a communiqué with policy recommendations was drafted and which will be submitted to the Prime Minister for government action.
RIU is a DFID-supported action research and development programme designed to put agricultural research into use for developmental purposes and to conduct research on how to do this.
The programme works towards improved programme communication and harmonisation for effective sharing and influencing local, national and international policy agenda.
It ensures that activities at country level are aligned with ongoing agricultural and natural resources development initiatives as well as relevant national and sectoral strategies in the country.
The main objective of the programme in Tanzania was to explore and facilitate ways of improving local innovation capacity for increased use of research, new knowledge and technologies in developing profitable agribusiness enterprises. In Tanzania, the programme is implemented by MUVEK Development Solutions Ltd.
MUVEK Development Solutions, is a Tanzanian development consultancy firm that aspires to efficiently and creatively provide quality advisory and support services to public and non-public development actors towards planning, executing and monitoring programmes focusing at developing a more locally-owned and people centered-profit oriented economy.