Developing a Free-Range Poultry Enterprise

Rhode island reds

Rhode island reds


Poultry refers to birds that are kept by man for economic reasons of obtaining meat, eggs and other products and also for aesthetic or social reasons. The most reared type of poultry is the chicken.

Systems of Poultry Production

In poultry production, there are several ways of keeping poultry. The system of poultry production adopted will depend on a number of factors, among them:

  1. Finances
  2. Knowledge of the poultry business
  3. Types of birds
  4. Land availability and location of the farm

Traditional Production or Extensive system

Under this system, we have:

  1. Pastured poultry
  2. Semi-intensive
  3. Yard and crop
  4. Innovative
  5. Free range

Pastured Poultry

Pastured Poultry

Pastured Poultry

Term used to describe a modification of free-range. A field pen is used where the grazing area and bird density are strictly controlled. Birds are pastured in floorless pens and moved daily usually in a rotation following cattle.




Refers to permanent housing with access provided to a yard or pasture. Birds in this system should be rotated to different yards, otherwise they will quickly turn a yard into bare soil.

Yard and Crop

Yard and Crop

Yard and Crop

A catch-all term referring to poultry operations that do not include a formal plan for rotating pasture or have no pasture access at all. Birds are allowed to roam the farm at will, shutting them up only at night for protection.




Birds forage fallow land in a floorless pen which is moved daily. Birds feed on weeds, seeds, and insects, as well as depositing manure on the ground. The field will be rotated to crop production the following season.

Free Range

Free Range

Free Range

The free range is the oldest system and has been practiced from the time man began to rear birds. The system allows birds to roam at will all over an almost unlimited area of land where they scavenge for herbage, seeds, insects, e.t.c.

Free range chicken farming is a very profitable business, and many people are making money all over the world by raising free range and backyard chickens. However, to build a successful, sustainable free range poultry farming business, you require sufficient knowledge of how to efficiently raise free range organic chickens, good management skills, and a good poultry farming business plan.

You have to decide on the size of your project i.e. the number of birds you want to keep per cycle; location of the business e.g. a poultry farm, and your target market. These choices will be affected by the amount of capital you have, and the size of your target market.  If you do not have a lot of capital, you can always start small and grow your business overtime. You also need to carry out market research (Who are you going to sell the birds to? At what price?) And write a business plan before you venture into the poultry business.


Land, Housing and Equipment

The kind of housing you need and the size of the land will depend on the size of your poultry project. When choosing the location for your poultry business, you have to balance the need for proximity to the market, with the cost of land, labour costs, security, and a good water supply. When you are planning to construct a free range chicken house, you have to select a site which is well-drained with plenty of natural air movement. The right housing should have proper ventilation and the right lighting. Ventilation is necessary so that adequate air exchange can take place. Lighting stimulates hens to lay eggs. If you want to produce eggs year-round, you will need to install adequate lighting in your facility. You should have equipment including feeders, drinkers, lighting system and nest boxes.

Free range chickens and backyard chickens need sufficient space for them to grow well, they should not be crowded, otherwise they may suffocate to death and that will lead to a loss in your business.  Each free range chicken requires about 0.1 square meters of floor space which translates to 10 birds per square meter. So the size of the free range chicken house will depend on the number of birds to be reared. Your housing can be barns, chicken runs or hutches, and the cost of construction will depend on the materials used, and the size of the free range poultry house. The free range chickens and backyard chickens also need pasture for them to forage. One of the major difference between broiler chickens and free range chickens, is that broilers are raised indoors, confined to the broiler house, while free range chickens will spend most of the day outside, foraging the pasture and vegetation.

Day Old Chicks

You need day old chicks to start your free range chicken and backyard poultry farming business.  After getting experience, you may then hatch your own chicks, which will greatly reduce your expenses as you will no longer need to buy day old chicks. You should purchase your day old chicks from a reliable accredited hatchery or company where the parent stocks are well managed. If you are new to the free range poultry business, you should enquire from other farmers to hear where they buy their chicks from. The success of your free range poultry and backyard chicken business will partly depend on the quality of day old chicks which you buy.

Free range chicks in brooder

Free range chicks in brooder

Chicken Breeds

There are many different breeds of chicken, and the right breed to choose will depend on your needs. You can do a free range chicken business for selling meat, for selling eggs, or for both meat and eggs. The Rhode Island Red chicken breed can be raised for both meat and eggs. They produce about 250 eggs per year. The Light Sussex chicken breed is also a dual purpose breed, for both meat and egg production. White Leghorns breed chickens are usually used as layer birds. They can lay up to 300 eggs a year, each egg weighing a minimum of 55 grams. The Boschveld chicken breed is usually found in Africa, and it can withstand varying climatic conditions. It’s also a dual purpose breed, which can be raised for both meat and egg production. There are many other breeds which include Golden Comet, Ameraucana, Barred Plymouth Rock, Golden Laced Wyandottes, Australorp e.t.c.

Free range chickens-Rhode island reds

Free range chickens-Rhode island reds

Feed and Nutrition

Feeding is important so as to increase the production of meat and eggs from the free range chickens and backyard chickens. Lack of feed or water will reduce resistance to diseases and parasites, and subsequently increase flock mortality. In a free range poultry rearing system, adult hens and cocks ought to be given enough time and space for scavenging in the surroundings daily. The best time for scavenging is early morning and late afternoon when there are plenty of insects and less heat. Supplementary feeds should be offered in the morning and evening when the free range chickens come back for the night. Clean water should be provided in shady areas during the day to avoid heat stress. You will also need proper vaccines and medications to prevent diseases and promote growth of your free range and backyard chickens.

The advantage of rearing free range chickens is that they will get most of their food from scavenging the surroundings, thus the feed costs are minimized. However, if you are keeping free range chickens for commercial purposes, food from foraging the surroundings is not enough. You will need to supplement their diet with commercial stock feeds, or your own home made feed. You can also give them maize, sorghum, wheat, rice e.t.c.

Management and Labour

The number of farm workers you need will depend on the size of your free range and backyard chicken project. If you are running a small business e.g. 100 birds/cycle, you and your family may be enough to take care of the chickens. However, if you are rearing 2000 birds per cycle, you will need full time employees to manage the free range chickens.  There is need for good technical knowledge of free range chickens rearing techniques for success in the business. You also need good management skills.


The amount of capital required for a free range poultry farming business depends on the scale of the project. Sources of capital include bank loans, and equity investors. Don’t have access to capital? Start small, and grow your business overtime! Free range chickens are very profitable, so if you reinvest the profits you get, you can quickly grow. You will require a good free-range chicken and eggs production business plan to guide you in your business.

Market For Free Range Chickens, Meat and Eggs

The market for free range chickens is high and increasing, as more people are moving towards organic and healthier food. Many people prefer organic free range chicken meat, as compared to broiler chicken meat. This is because free range chickens are highly nutritious, delicious, organic, and healthier. Thus, the demand for free range organic chickens meat continues to rise. Free range chickens have a higher price than broiler chickens, as they are considered to be more superior.

The eggs from free range chickens are also considered to be superior as compared to the eggs from commercial indoor layers chickens. Free range chicken eggs are considered to be highly nutritious, delicious, organic, and healthier. Thus, the price of free range organic eggs is higher as compared to the usual poultry eggs. You can supply your free range chicken meat and eggs to individual households, butchers, schools, restaurants, companies, supermarkets, organizations, events, abattoirs etc. You can sell your free range chicken as live birds or you can slaughter and freeze them and sell them as dressed chicken.  As you grow your business, you will also be able to export your free range organic products.


Modern Livestock and Poultry Production by James R. Gillespie

Monogastric Production – Sub module 1 by R. Nkamba

Developing a Free-Range Poultry Enterprise by Terry Poole

Improved Village Poultry Keeping A Trainers Handbook by Russell Parker

This guide is available to download as a free PDF. Download Developing a Free-Range Poultry Enterprise now. Feel free to copy and share this with your friends and family.


Mushroom Cultivation – An Effective Means For Poverty Alleviation

Bags of shiitake mushrooms in a green house

Bags of shiitake mushrooms in a green house


Mushroom cultivation has been evaluated as an effective means for poverty alleviation in developing countries due to its possibility of low cost production, high profit and quick return.

What is Mushroom?
A mushroom is defined as “a macrofungus with a distinctive fruiting body which can be either epigeous or hypogeous. The macrofungi have fruiting bodies large enough to be seen with the naked eye and to be picked up by hand” (Chang and Miles, 1992). In a narrow sense, the word mushroom also refers only to the fruitbody.
Mushrooms used to be classified into the Kingdom Plantae, but now they belong to the Kingdom Fungi due to unique fungal characteristics which draw a clear line from animals or plants. Unlike green plants, mushrooms are heterotrophs. Not having chlorophyll, they cannot generate nutrients by photosynthesis, but take nutrients from outer sources. Most mushroom species are under the Basidiomycota and Ascomycota, the two phyla under the Kingdom Fungi (Table 1).

Table 1. Kingdom Fungi

Ascomycota sac fungi (yeast to large cup fungi)
Basidiomycota higher fungi (toadstool, puffball, bracket fungi)
Zygomycota molds, mycorrhizal fungi and soil decomposers
Chytridiomycota primitive fungi, chytrids
Deuteromycota asexually reproducing fungi


A Mushroom Plant

A Mushroom Plant

Mushrooms breed by spores (seeds for plants). Under the proper conditions, spores germinate into hyphae (collectively, mycelia). Mycelia are filamentous and generally unseen with the naked eye. Germinated hyphae form primary mycelia, and then secondary mycelia through plasmogamy (hyphal fusion). They accumulate nutrients from the substrate (soil for plants) and colonize substrate. When stimulated by temperature, humidity, etc., the mycelial colony forms pins under certain conditions and grow to fruitbodies (fruits for plants). Young fruitbodies are called pins (buds for plants). Pins differentiate into a cap and stem forming fruitbodies.

Mushroom cultivation requires enough understanding on the optimal growing conditions of each mushroom species and how to make favourable environment for both vegetative and reproductive growth of mushrooms.

Three Factors of Mushroom Cultivation
1.0 Spawn

Sawdust spawn

Sawdust spawn

What spawn is to mushroom is like seed is to crop. Unlike spore, spawn is already at its
mycelial stage growing on its own substrate such as sorghum, barley or sawdust
. The life cycle of mushroom starts from spores, but growers inoculate mycelial origin spawn rather than spore origin spawn because of possible variations and mutations. The quality of spawn is one of the most decisive factors for successful crop.
Therefore, growers need to use qualified spawn for commercial production. Spawn should maintain the strain characteristics and is propagated by subcultures. New strains are developed with genetic methods such as variation and mating. The various types of mushroom spawn include grain, sawdust, plug and liquid

2.0 Substrate
Mushrooms can be classified as 3 categories by their tropic pattern; saprophytes, parasites or mycorrhizae. The most commonly grown mushrooms are saprophytes, decomposers in an ecosystem growing on organic matters like wood, leaves and straw in nature. Raw materials can be used as substrate for primary decomposers such as oyster mushroom and enokitake which have lignocellulosic enzymes. On the other hand, secondary decomposers like button mushroom or straw mushroom require substrate degraded by bacteria or other fungi. Mushroom requires carbon, nitrogen and inorganic compounds as its nutritional sources and the main nutrients are carbon sources such as cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Thus, most organic matters containing cellulose, hemicellulose or lignin can be used as mushroom substrate. Examples are cotton, cottonseed hull, corncob, sugarcane waste, sawdust, and so on. However, demanded amount of each nutritional sources differs according to mushroom species. For example, button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) requires relatively high nitrogen source, so the optimal C/N ratio of button mushroom compost is 17. On the other hand, oyster mushroom and shiitake require less nitrogen and more carbon source. Mushroom mycelia secrete digestive enzymes into the substrate and absorb the dissolved nutrients. Cellulose, the main nutritional source of mushroom is one of the most abundant organic matters on earth, but its digestive enzyme, cellulase is owned by several microorganisms including fungi.
Here comes the reason mushroom is considered an important food source. Mushroom is the only one by which cellulose is dissolved and absorbed and transformed into food for mankind. Mushroom is also influenced by acidity of substrate. The optimal pH value of substrate ranges from 6 to 8, varying with mushroom species.

3.0 Environment
The last important factor for mushroom growing is providing an appropriate environment both for vegetative and reproductive growth. Not being protected by a skin layer, fungi are easily affected by their growing conditions. So it can be said that the success or failure of mushroom cultivation depends on the control of growing conditions.
Environmental factors affecting mushroom cultivation include temperature, humidity, light and ventilation. Optimal levels of them at vegetative stage differ from those at reproductive stage. Mushroom mycelia can survive between 5 and 40℃ depending on the species. Mushroom mycelia grow well with the temperature range between 20 and 30℃. Pins form at 10-20℃, lower than that of mycelial growth by 10℃. Over 80% of the fruitbody is water. Substrate moisture content should be 60-75% and log moisture content, 35-45%. During fruiting, different relative humidity levels, ranging from 80-95%, are needed at the early, mid and latter stage. Though mycelia can grow without light, some species require light for fruitbody formation. Being aerobic fungi, mushrooms need fresh air during growing, but ventilation is more required for reproductive stage.
No matter how well the substrate is colonized, it is useless if it fails in fructification. Therefore creating the optimal conditions for transition from vegetative stage to reproductive stage is crucial to successful mushroom cultivation.

Why Grow Mushrooms

Figure 1. Mushrooms for development

Figure 1. Mushrooms for development

Mushrooms have been part of our human diet since time immemorial. They were used as food even before man understood the use of other organisms. Undoubtedly, mushrooms were one of man’s earliest foods, and they were often considered an exotic and luxurious food reserved for the rich. Today mushrooms are food for both the rich and the poor. They can be grown anywhere as long as the conditions for their growth and cultivation are provided. Available mushroom technologies range in complexity from very high to amazingly low. Mushrooms have been variously considered as a hedge against famine or a possible cancer cure. They do certainly have enormous potential for feeding third world peoples. In the West, mushrooms are regarded as a luxury food. But in many developing countries of the world, mushrooms can mean cash for the poor (Fig. 1) and a new source of nutrition. Even landless peasants can grow mushrooms as a valuable crop as long as they have the proper technology, the proper substrates, and the planting material called spawn. In some villages of India, it has been reported that farmers are growing mushrooms right in their own homes or immediate surroundings. Villagers growing mushrooms can rapidly begin to bring in more cash than some local landowners.

Figure 2. Fruiting bodies of V volvacea

Figure 2. Fruiting bodies of V volvacea


Figure 3. Straw mushroom beds

Figure 3. Straw mushroom beds


Figure 4. Harvesting of straw mushroom

Figure 4. Harvesting of straw mushroom


Figure 5. Fruiting bodies of oyster mushroom

Figure 5. Fruiting bodies of oyster mushroom

In some poor countries of Asia, the tropical Chinese straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea) (Fig. 2) is grown in very simple traditional ways. This mushroom likes the hot humid conditions of the tropics and can be cultivated on beds (Fig. 3) made up of agricultural wastes such as straw or banana leaves. Within 2 weeks, fruitbodies are ready to be harvested (Fig. 4).

Figure 6. Oyster Mushroom houses made of grasses

Figure 6. Oyster Mushroom houses made of grasses


Figure 7. Oyster mushroom growing on sawdust beds outdoor

Figure 7. Oyster mushroom growing on sawdust beds outdoor

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.) (Fig. 5) are even more suited throughout the third world areas that are rich in plant wastes such as sawdust, sugarcane bagasse and others. Moreover, composting–the difficult preliminary step for button and straw mushroom–is not required for oyster mushroom cultivation.
The oyster mushroom growing houses can be constructed of mud as in some villages in India, or made of bamboo and dried leaves as in most of Asia (Fig. 6). In cooler areas, oyster mushrooms may even be grown outdoors if they are shielded from excessive sun (Fig. 7).

Benefits Derived from Mushrooms and Growing Mushrooms

  1. Nutrition of the mushrooms. The popularity of mushrooms is still based not on the nutrients that they contain but mostly on their exotic taste and their culinary properties, whether eaten alone or in combination with other foods. It is not well known that mushrooms are full of nutrients and can therefore make a very important contribution to human nutrition.
  2. As health food and medicinal. For the past 20 years, interest in the medicinal aspects of mushrooms has greatly been stimulated by the large number of scientific studies conducted on mushrooms. Folklores have provided clues for potential sources of medicine from mushrooms as well as from herbal plants. Using modern approaches, scientists have isolated and identified specific components that can either destroy or at least debilitate three of mankinds’ killer diseases: cancer, heart disease and AIDS. As a result, a vast body of scientific literature concerning mushrooms has been published since the 1970s, mostly in hospitals and research institutions in Europe, Japan, China and the United States.
  3. Use of agricultural wastes as substrates. Mushrooms are grown on some organic substrates, mostly waste materials from farms, plantations or factories.
  4. Income and job generation. Mushroom growing is labour-intensive, and for countries where jobs are scarce, mushroom growing can create jobs both in semi-urban and rural areas. In fact, some technologies can use family labour thus providing all members of the family with employment.
  5. Resulting compost used for soil conditioner and animal feed. The used compost that remains after harvesting mushrooms may still be recycled for use as animal feeds and soil conditioner.


In conclusion, among the three factors, the most important is environmental control. By maintaining optimal conditions at each growing stage and for each species, growers can produce the desired yield of quality mushrooms.


  • Epigeous Growing on (or close to) the ground.
  • Hypogeous Growing underground.
  • Plasmogamy Fusion of cells or protoplasts without fusion of the nuclei, as occurs in higher terrestrial fungi. Nucleus fusion is called karyogamy.
  • Heterotroph An organism that cannot synthesize its own food and that is dependent on complex organic substances for nutrition. Most organisms except green plants (autotrophs) are heterotrophs.
  • Saprophyte An organism which grows on and derives its nutrient from dead or decaying organic matter.
  • Parasite An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.
  • Mycorrhiza The symbiotic association of the mycelium of a fungus with the roots of certain plants, such as conifers, beeches, or orchids.
  • Aerobe Organism that is living or occurring only in the presence of oxygen.


Fungi Perfecti

Growing Mushrooms the Easy Way

Teagsac-Irish Agriculture & Food Development Authority

HRI mushroom research

Mushroom Council

Mushroom Cultivation and Marketing


Mushroom Growers Handbook 1 – Oyster Mushroom Cultivation

Mushroom Growers Handbook 2 – Shiitake Cultivation

This guide is available to download as a free PDF. Download Mushroom-Cultivation–An-Effective-Means-For-Poverty-Alleviation now. Feel free to copy and share this with your friends and family

Benefits of Bee keeping

A white eyed drone

A white eyed drone


Bees are active pollinators. Most plants require effective pollination for their survival.

Bees are the most preferred pollinating insects. Extensive and proper pollination can bring about larger harvests of fruits, vegetables, and crops.

Having bees nearby can bring a marked improvement in the quality and quantity of vegetables, fruits, or flowers you and your neighbours grow.

Research shows that the dollar value of pollination by domesticated bees and beekeepers to a range of agricultural crops in the U.S.A. alone is measured in the millions of dollars per year.

Stress Reliever

Although there may not be any specific scientific claims to prove it, yet, beekeepers feel bees help them reduce their personal stress levels. Visitors enjoy just watching the bees coming in and going out of their hives with all their hustle and bustle.


Beekeeping is very educational for adults and children. You can learn many things from watching bees as they follow specific patterns of work.

Different categories of bees have assigned duties. Keeping a regular watch on beehives, observing bees, drones, and worker bees going about their work can teach us valuable lessons on work and time management.


Beekeeping helps you to be able to shower your friends and relatives with various exclusive gifts at a fairly low cost. Gift items from your beehives could include bottled honey, beeswax, cosmetics, home-made candles and even lip balm.

Health Products

You can use the bee products available from your bee colonies to maintain your health. A regular supply of fresh, pure honey collected from your own beehive is just the start.

Many people believe that propolis (a glue produced and used by bees to maintain their combs) is good for you.

Aquaculture Production in Zambia

Zambia has big potential for fish farming with 37 per cent of its surface area suitable for artisanal and 43 per cent suitable for commercial fish production.

Aquaculture is the rearing of aquatic organisms in an enclosed water body under controlled conditions. Aquatic organisms may be plant life such as phytoplankton, lilies, and other forms of algae or animal life such as fish, crocodiles, oysters etc. Controlled conditions include physio-chemical water parameters (dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, phosphorous, etc), water level, as well as feed. The basic idea here is to imitate what is prevailing in the natural waters so as to achieve optimum yields.

Aquaculture is in its infant stage of development compared to agriculture. Fish farming in Zambia dates back to the 1950s when the first attempts were made to raise indigenous species of the cichlidae family, mainly tilapias, in dams and earthen fish ponds. A number of donors have subsequently taken an active part in assisting the government to encourage farmers to adopt aquaculture.

Common aquaculture technologies used in Zambia:

  1. Earthen Ponds

This technology involves the use of the sides, bottom, and dykes of a pond to form an ecosystem. Such a system promotes growth of natural food items and so fish benefits extensively from the natural food. Supplementary feed may not be necessary. Production varies depending on management system employed; regardless of pond size. Pond construction and maintenance is relatively cheaper. Examples of species suitable for culture include Oreochromis andersonii or O. niloticus.


Earthen Pond

  1. Concrete Ponds

Pond walls and bottom are made of concrete. Since the bottom is cemented, no ecosystem is formed and so no natural food production. In this case, formulated feed is what the cultured organisms rely on. It is expensive to construct and maintain; thereby mainly used for production of high value species e.g. carp fish.


Concrete Pond

  1. Raceways

This is a narrow long body of water. It depends on a continuous flow of water and so limited presence of algae, bacteria, or fungi. Only stubborn algae are scarcely found. Catfish, Tilapia, Carp are among species that can be cultured.



  1. Floating Cages

Cages may be made of planks or steel and are placed in running water- in a natural water body (lake, river, sea). Since space is limited, artificial feed supplement is necessary. To curb environmental degradation, positioning of cages, feed type, and frequency is cardinal. Examples of species cultured in this system include i.e. O. niloticus or O. andersonii.


Floating Cages

Cage farming is a relatively new practice in Zambia, which has attracted a lot of concern from the Environmental monitoring bodies such as the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA). Their main concern is regarding the negative impacts that the practice has on the natural water body and its resources. For example,

  • In the event of fish escaping from cages, such escapes may cause harm to the inhabitants and the ecosystem (especially if they are exotic species).
  • Uneaten feeds that find themselves on the river bed would cause water pollution;
  • Cages tend to divert or hamper natural water flow;
  • The site of cages may compromise the beautiful scenery of the water body, affecting tourism;
  • Cages would also affect navigation; etc.

There is therefore need to address such concerns before and during the project execution stage. Constraints and benefits must be compared to ensure that even as the farmer is gaining profits, the environmental damage is not compromised. In this vain, it is a requirement by the Zambian law that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) be carried out before project initiation to determine the possible impacts and propose remedial measures thereof.

  1. Tanks

Strong material such as planks, fibre glass, or plastic is used in construction. May be round, square, or rectangular in shape. Shape and size varies depending on purpose. Usually used for high value and delicate species such as breeders, juveniles, or ornamental fishes. Food is totally artificial and water should be allowed to run through or changed regularly.



  1. Conservation Dams

In most cases, the dam is originally intended for other purposes such as irrigation, livestock drinking, or human consumption. Instead of allowing the dam to serve only that intended purpose, fish may be reared in the same dam. In dams meant for livestock, animals fertilize the water (cow dung for instance), thereby promoting primary productivity, and thus natural food for the fish. Production is relatively low. Harvesting is not easy due to depth, stumps, and rocks. This kind of practice is commonly practiced in Southern and Eastern Province of Zambia. Species cultured mainly Tilapia, catfish.

Species Suitable for Aquaculture in Zambia

The commonly used species for aquaculture include the three spotted tilapia (Oreochromis andersonii), the longfin tilapia (Oreochromis macrochir) and the redbreast tilapia (Tilapia rendalli). The Kafue river strain of the three spotted tilapia is the most commonly farmed species, particularly in the commercial sector. Other species include the common carp (Cyprinus carpio), the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and the red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii).

Challenges facing Aquaculture Production in Zambia

Lack of a national policy to guide aquaculture development, unfriendly investment policies, the absence of linkages between farmers, research/technology development and extension, and unfavourable investment climate. Long-term economic sustainability of Zambian aquaculture will depend on the development and implementation of a national policy that ensures the social and environmental sustainability of the industry.

Challenges and Opportunities for the Future

The entry of Zambian aquaculture into global prominence faces considerable challenges. There are, however, reasons for optimism. Despite high risks and investment costs, high and increasing demand and market value of fish are encouraging. If social and environmental sustainability issues can be successfully addressed, increasing market demand and higher prices should open opportunities for a range of producers and investors. Increasing productivity of both large and small-scale aquaculture will require major investments in research, development and extension as well as policy shifts. The strategies for addressing problems of the small-scale and larger commercial operations will probably be different.


Cropping Systems – Agroforestry


Trees being used as a Windbreak


Cropping System

A cropping system mainly refers to the way a crop is grown, arrangement in the field and frequency of production. Different cropping systems and practices are used in the production of crops depending on location, preference, skill and financial capacity.


 Agroforestry is the intentional mixing of trees and shrubs into crop and animal production systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits.

 The foundation of agroforestry is putting trees to work in conservation and production systems for farms, forests, ranches, and communities. Agroforestry begins with placing the right plant, in the right place, for the right purpose.

Agroforestry is a unique land management approach that provides opportunities to integrate productivity and profitability with environmental stewardship, resulting in healthy and sustainable agricultural systems that can be passed on to future generations.

Agroforestry technologies, when used appropriately, help attain sustainable agricultural land-use systems in many ways. Specifically, agroforestry technologies:

  • Provide protection for valuable topsoil, livestock, crops, and wildlife.
  • Increase productivity of agricultural and horticultural crops.
  • Reduce inputs of energy and chemicals.
  • Increase water use efficiency of plants and animals.
  • Improve water quality.
  • Diversify local economies.
  • Enhance biodiversity and landscape diversity.
  • Reconnect agriculture, people, and communities.

Agroforestry technologies ultimately enhance the quality of life for people. Common cropping systems used in agroforestry includes the following:

  1. Field, farmstead, and livestock windbreaks.
  2. Riparian forest buffers along waterways.
  3. Silvopasture systems with trees, livestock, and forages growing together.
  4. Alley cropping or hedge row cropping– a system where dense hedges of multipurpose (usually leguminous) trees are grown in rows between wider strips of annual crops. The hedges are pruned occasionally to provide mulch and organic matter. The main aim in alley cropping is to improve yields by adding nutrients from the organic matter and nitrogen fixation.
  5. Contour vegetation strip- This system is mainly employed on slopes where rows of trees are interspaced with wider strips of crops. The main aim in this system is to control erosion.
  6. Forest farming– where food, herbal (botanicals), and decorative products are grown under the protection of a managed forest canopy.

Disadvantages of Agroforestry

  • Needs some skill to carry out
  • Trees may harbour pests and diseases
  • Trees may compete with crops if not well spaced


There is a significant opportunity to apply agroforestry practices to address challenges such landscape-scale conservation, climate change, clean and abundant water for communities, biomass energy, and sustainable agriculture. Integrated into individual farm operations and watersheds, agroforestry practices can create and enhance certain desirable functions and outcomes essential for sustainability. The effective application of agroforestry requires leadership and teamwork and its partners in both: (1) developing agroforestry science and tools and (2) delivering agroforestry assistance to the owners/managers of working farms, woodlands, ranches, and communities. Both are essential if we are to realize the many benefits of this unique approach to land management.

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Lufenuron – A Miracle Pesticide




Lufenuron, a new pesticide on the market is a benzoylurea pesticide that inhibits the production of Chitin in insects. Without Chitin, a larval flea will never develop a hard outer shell (exoskeleton). With its inner organs exposed to air, the insect dies from dehydration soon after hatching or molting (shedding of its old, small shell).

Lufenuron is also used to fight fungal infections, since fungus cell walls are about one third Chitin.
Lufenuron is also sold as an agricultural pesticide against Lepidopteranseriophid mites, and western flower thrips. It is an effective anti fungal in plants.

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Agriculture the Backbone of Africa

A maize field

A maize field

Agriculture being the backbone of most developing economies in Africa holds pregnant solutions to food insecurity and a spectrum of deficiency diseases affecting Africa. However this potential has not been tapped enough to make it rise to the occasion of a commercialized agriculture that can provide employment, continuously and adequately feed Africans and nurture economic growth in the individual countries.

To see this in print we need combined efforts between large and small scale farmers, government and educational institutions to provide thinking minds and dedicated personnel to act as movers of change. The farmers must convert the farming activities into enterprises worth investments of money, time and energy. This is unlike the garden-to-mouth philosophy that is not only a disgrace to a growing economy but also an injection of poverty to the society.

The government needs to make policies that not only support agriculture but also gets directly involved in it through parastatals. Subsidized fertilizers, pesticides and buying produce from farmers can offer direct support while policies supporting climate and environmental consciousness, rural development and artificial irrigation can support indirectly.

Educational institutions should promote research projects related to agriculture from students for capacity building in rural areas and take their students for academic trips to food processing companies to set them on fire of innovation.

According to statistics released by FAO, a child dies every six seconds from hunger, 14% of greenhouse gases come from agriculture and 74% of this is brought by developing countries where most of our African economies lie. This necessitates the need to be conscious of our environment and fast conversion of words to deeds, from the boardroom to the field.
With the above mentioned synergistic effect, we can transform our Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) into our main production zones by not depending on rain-fed agriculture but irrigating our farms. This will provide adequate food for us and feeds for our animals that will give us manure for organic farming thereby reciprocal benefits. Africa is endowed with lakes, dams and rivers to support this but people in their immediate environment die from hunger. Reclaiming our land by the government is another step along the journey. Production alone is not enough. We need food processing companies near these farms to bring the youth to rural areas and closer to the farms that will rejuvenate the spirit of agriculture from old and rigid people to young, innovative and aggressive minds that can elevate food security in the continent and reduce antisocial crimes and solve problems related to rural-urban migration.

Food scientists and technologists in these companies will complete the chain of production by processing the produce to finished products to avoid post-harvest wastage and ensure continuous supply throughout the country. The excess will be exported to earn our countries substantial foreign currencies to increase our net factor incomes and lead to positive balance of payments. With the new technological advancement, education and incentive systems in our individual countries, it can be done.

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