Developing a Free-Range Poultry Enterprise

Rhode island reds

Rhode island reds

Introduction

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.

Semi-Intensive

Semi-Intensive

Semi-Intensive

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.

Innovative

Innovative

Innovative

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.

WHAT YOU NEED

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.

Capital

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.

References

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.

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Goat Farming As a Business

8676978Introduction

Goat farming in Zambia is set to grow in importance with huge demand from Saudi Arabia, which desires to import one million Zambian goats annually. But at the moment, Zambia only has about four million goats – and that’s not enough to meet the new demand.

Goats don’t require a high initial investment in comparison to other livestock in Zambia. This is great for those contemplating to go into Goat farming as a business or those Goat farmers that wish to expand their herds; to take advantage of the business opportunity that Saudi Arabia presents.

Goats are hardy and easier animals to look after, which can survive under harsh environments. Goats are reared under extensive farming conditions, mainly for meat and to a lesser extent for milk. To some extent productivity of these goats is low due to various factors such as high kid mortality and lack of good animal husbandry practices. Goats also provide skins of commercial importance and manure for gardens (and crop fields). In other parts of the world goats are kept for their wool (mohair).

Human populations are growing, and creating a significant and increasing demand for additional animal protein foods. The goat can play an important role in meeting these demands. This calls for farmers to put value in their goat enterprises by shifting from subsistence production to commercial production. It is easier to increase the population of small ruminants (goats and sheep) than large stock. In economic terms the opportunity costs are low for goat production.

“The goat was probably the first animal to be domesticated around 9000 – 7000
B.C. This long association between goat and human indicates the variety of
functions the goat can provide.”

This write-up has been written to provide information to farmers who are in need of knowledge to start a goat enterprise on a commercial basis, and goat husbandry. The information is not completely comprehensive, but combines experiences from authors and farmers.

Types of Breeds
The vast majority of goats in Zambia are indigenous breeds and these are mainly found in Southern, Central and Eastern provinces.

  • Average birth weights of kids range from 1.5kg to 2.5kg (up to 3kg)
  • The indigenous breeds are well adapted to their respective environments.

Other breeds found in Zambia include exotic types, the Boer goat (mainly for meat) with a mature weight of 65kg. The Saanen, Toggenburg and Alpine goat is for milk production and produces an average of 3.5litres of milk per day. There is also the Angora goat for mohair production, and the Kalahari, bred for meat.

Management of Does and Bucks

Management of Does (Females)

Young females should be mated as from the age of 12 months. Good nutrition ensures that the animal grows faster and ready for mating. It also increases fertility and litter size. If young animals are mated when they are very young (less than 8 months) they will remain stunted the rest of their life and will have poor reproductive performance. A well-managed female can produce kids for about eight years.
Pregnancy in goats lasts between 145 – 150 days (five months). A mature female can only mate when she is ready (on” heat”). The heat period lasts between 24 – 26 hours. During this time she should receive the male. The presence of the male in the flock triggers heat. Coming on heat also depends on the nutrition of the animal. Signs, which may indicate that the animal is on heat:

  • Shaking of the tail
  • Mounting other animals
  • Seeking males
  • Continuous bleating
  • Mucous discharge from the vulva

Pregnant females should be separated from the main flock for close monitoring, at least two months before kidding. This also reduces the loss of kids. At this stage they will need quality feed supplements to enhance feed reserves in the body. This will ensure a healthy kid and enough milk.

Management of Bucks (Males)

  • Male goats are known to be fertile at an earlier stage than females. In such circumstances males have to be raised separately from females to avoid unplanned mating.
  • Bucks have to be kept in good condition and fed at all times.
  • For breeding purposes, bucks with horns have to be used, so as to avoid haemophrodism (bisexual), which comes with the use of hornless/polled bucks.
  • Bucks can be selected at an early age. A male kid born weighing about 2.5kg or more kg could be selected for future breeding. Heavier and fast growing bucks should be selected. Select bucks from twin births so as to increase the chances of twinning.
  • Males not suitable for breeding should be castrated or culled.

Breeding and Mating Systems

Breeding Systems

The breeding system is an important aspect of goat production in terms of meat and milk production. It has a significant influence on immediate and long-term flock productivity. There are two systems of breeding:

  • Crossbreeding. This involves the mating of different breeds to combine characteristics found in the different breeds and to make use of the “hybrid vigour”. In simple terms this means that the offspring performs better than the parents. Crossbreeding is one of the methods used in meat and milk production. It can be disastrous, if not done properly, leading to the disappearance of the existing genetic pool.    
                A                                 B
(Boer Goat male) X (Indigenous female goat)
                           

                       

                          ⇓

 

                       AB (Crossbred)

 

 

Table 1. Showing how crossbreeding is done

  • Pure Breeding. In this system purebred females (does) are run with purebred males (bucks) to maintain the desired traits (colour, size, meat and milk qualities) of that particular breed.

Mating Systems

It is important for farmers to know the different mating systems that can be applied to their breeding flock.

  • Random Mating. Is letting any number of bucks to run with a flock of females uncontrolled.

Advantages of Random Mating

  1. Simple
  2. Cheap
  3. Goats can kid any time, therefore a farmer can sell any time.

Disadvantages

  1. High risk of inbreeding
  2. High risk of spread of diseases.
  • Assortative Mating. Is putting the best females to the best buck. This is better than random mating

Advantages of Assortative Mating

  1. High quality breeds
  2. Maintains genetic base

Disadvantages

  1. Unavailability of appropriate breeding stock
  2. Difficult to implement in communal setups
  3. Lack of technical skills, including records

Selection

Selection. Is a process of choosing the animals with desirable characteristics to be parents of the next generation.

Types of Selection

There are three types of selection:

  • Mass Selection. Select animals with traits that are highly heritable. Target the individual animals e.g. best performing male is mated with the best performing female.
  • Family Selection. Consider pedigree, sibling or performance of the entire family. Select traits that have low heritability.
  • The removal of unproductive animals (old goats, animals with poor mothering abilities, poor reproductive performance, and animals with chronic sicknesses) from the flock.

Mating Ratio

In a controlled mating system:

  • A male goat should run with females for 36 – 42 days. The reason being that a female which misses mating or coming into heat has a second chance within the mentioned period.
  • A mature buck can be given 40 – 50 females to service. A young buck can be given 25 – 30 females. The effectiveness of both male and females depends on their body condition at mating.

Breeding Calendar

Below is a calendar that can assist the farmers to plan their flock breeding cycles. This helps the farmer to plan when to purchase inputs, market and to carry strategic operations.

Month 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12
Selection of
breeding
stock
Mating
starts
(Putting
g the
buck
to the
female
s for
42
days)
End of
mating
Separate
the
pregnant
and the
non
pregnant
Supplement
and
vaccinate
against
pulpy
kidney all
pregnant
females
Kidding
starts
End of
kidding
Care of kids Vaccination
against Pulpy
kidney
Weaning
Flushing of
females
Flushing
Routine management of the flock-Dipping, dosing,

Table 2. Breeding Calendar

Kid Management

It is important to take good care of kids so as to reduce mortalities and improve kid growth rate.
A reduction in kid mortality translates into an increase in flock size and consequently the increase in offtake.
Kidding Seasons

  • Kidding should coincide with times of abundant feed availability so that the does will be producing enough milk for the survival of the kid.
  • This is usually in the December to February period.
  • Sometimes goats may kid when the condition of the range is not good that is in winter. In such cases it is always important to make sure that the doe is adequately fed and is producing enough milk.

Kid Rearing
1. Preparation

  • Kidding area should be clean with dry bedding (Stover or hay).
  • The doe may be kept in the kidding area for a few days before kidding

The signs of a goat that is about to kid are:

  1. Restlessness
  2. Separating itself from the flock
  3. Discharge of mucus from the vulva,

The advantage of separating pregnant does from the rest of the flock is to ensure undisturbed birth process and creates good bonding between the doe and kid.
2. At Birth

To allow bonding the doe must clean and groom her kids and remain undisturbed for two to four hours.
When to intervene in the birth process:

  • When there is mal-presentation or difficulties in kidding.
  • When the kid does not bleat or breathe because the doe failed to clean it, remove the membrane over the nostrils.
  • Cutting the navel and application of iodine. Iodine application is not necessary if bedding is clean.
  • When there is no bonding between the doe and the kid
  1. Kid Housing
    Keep the kids at home for the first few weeks to about one month (especially if the does have to travel long distances to browse and water). The kids require warm and dry conditions during their first four weeks of life. Housing should protect kids from heat, cold or even spread of diseases among kids.
    An example of kid housing is the Kid boxes. The kid box has the following: made of wood or bamboo measuring, 500 – 600mm long, 400 – 500mm wide and 300 – 400mm deep. Bedding in the box should be kept clean and fresh. This makes it easy to detect diarrhoea. The kid can be kept in the box for three days and moved thereafter.
  2. Feeding Kids
  • Kids should suckle the first milk (colostrum-cinsema) within the first six hours of birth which is rich in antibodies that increase the immunity of the kid. If the doe is not producing enough milk for her kid, fostering or bottle feeding is recommended.
  • From about 3 weeks of age kids start nibbling grass and leaves. This is important for rumen development.
  • They should be allowed to browse/graze from no later than one month. Effective grazing and browsing starts at 6 – 7 weeks.
  1. Identification

It is important to have identifications for individual animals as this makes record keeping easier. There are a number of methods that can be used. These include ear tagging, ear notching and attaching names to animals. It is also a government requirement that all the animals have standard identification for traceability when exporting livestock and livestock products.

  1. Health Care in Kids
  • A clean environment will reduce the incidence of diseases. A farmer should always be on the lookout for diarrhoea & for respiratory problems – coughing or nasal discharge.

Prevention is better than cure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Make sure kids get colostrum within six hours of birth
  • Make sure bedding is clean and dry
  • Do not confine many kids in a small area
  • Avoid damp conditions and excessive heat or cold
  • Avoid overfeeding kids with milk as this result in scours.

To improve the general health of the kids ensure the following; to the whole flock:

  • Dry sleeping places
  • Clean drinking water (about 5litres per animal per day)
  • Adequate feeding (3 – 5% of their body weight per day)
  • Control of internal and external parasites
  1. Predation
  • Ensure that the kids are housed to protect them from being eaten by jackals, eagles and other dangerous animals.
  • Do not allow kids to browse in dangerous places unattended
  1. Weaning
  • This should be done when the kids are hundred days old on average and weighing between 8 – 12 kilograms
  • The most common weaning method in goats is complete separation of the kids and the does. It is however critical to vaccinate the kids and the does against pulpy kidney (PK) just before weaning as this stresses them, making them vulnerable to PK.
  • Weaning enables the does to be in good body condition in preparation for the next mating season
  1. Castration
    This is the severing or cutting of the spermatic cords so that the animal cannot mate with the females. Castration improves the quality of meat by reducing the characteristic smell of the entire male. There are three main methods of castration used in goats i.e. the rubber ring, knife/razor and burdizzo.

Conclusion

Proper care of both the female goat (doe) and the male goat (buck) is of paramount importance to ensure the success of the farm business.

References

Charray, J., Humbert, J.M and Levif J. 1989. Manual of sheep production in
the humid tropics of Africa. Translated by Alan Leeson. Published by C.A.B
International. Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation.

Devendra, C and McLeroy, G.B.1982. Goat and sheep production in the
Tropics. Intermediate Tropical Agriculture series

This guide is available to download as a free PDF. Download Goat Farming As a Business 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

Pollination

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.

Educational

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.

Gifts

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-ponds

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-ponds

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.

raceways

Raceway

  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

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.

tanks

Tanks

  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.

 

Lufenuron – A Miracle Pesticide

 

Lufenuron

Lufenuron

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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Africa the Cradle of Agriculture

Various vegetables grown on the continent

Various vegetables grown on the continent

Africa is credited to be the cradle of agriculture, despite this being the case the continent lags behind when it comes to Food Security.

This “Year of agriculture and Food Security” in Africa must take its relevance. Agriculture must become a true rallying point for change on the continent and beyond as we seek to achieve, in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘an Africa where there would be work, bread, water and salt for all.

Therefore, there is need for African governments to spearhead innovations in agriculture if we are to attain Food Security in Africa. There is no doubt that meaningful agricultural innovations can and will create Food Security in Africa.

Approximately 65 percent of Africans rely on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood. And despite the wide variety of crops, animals and farm practices across the continent, Africa has the lowest levels of agricultural productivity in the world.

History tells us that nations that have succeeded in taking their people out of poverty have done it on the back of an agricultural revolution that involved systematic improvements in production, storage, processing and use. Increase in agricultural productivity, has, from the time of the European industrial revolution contributed immensely to fast tracking the structural transformation of economies.

The effect of the agricultural revolution on the economies of Brazil, India, and China give an illustration of how the surplus from increased agricultural productivity can fuel industrial growth.

The majority of African farmers have not benefited from initiatives and programs aimed at improving farming techniques, better farm equipment, seeds, fertilizer, post-harvest technology, agricultural financing and so on. Why has minimal level of success been attained so far?

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