Free range poultry producers eye foreign markets
Harare (New Ziana) -The government in partnership with the Zimbabwe Free Range Poultry Association and other stakeholders have come up with a code of good agricultural practice for the sector as it moves to penetrate the lucrative global market.
The standards will ensure production of good quality products that are acceptable on the global market as they will be conforming to set requirements.
Free range denotes a method of farming husbandry where the animals, for at least part of the day, can roam freely outdoors, rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 hours each day.
Speaking at the launch of the new standards in the capital on Tuesday, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said there is a huge market for the country’s poultry products regionally and internationally, particularly in China where the country is currently unable to meet the demand.
Masuka said the launch was coming at an opportune time, in the same month that the world was celebrating Food Safety Day whose theme: “Food Standards Save Lives,” was dovetailing with the objectives of free range poultry production standards launch.
“The Ministry is pleased that the national standard that is being launched today is further affirmation of this global focus on food and nutrition quality as an imperative.
“As the Ministry responsible for food and nutrition security in the country, and also our urgent mandate of rural development, there is excitement around this initiative that seeks to improve the potential earning capacity of the players in this agriculture sub-space,” he said.
He said the government was prepared to fully support the over 3 million small-holder poultry producers in the country to improve their livelihoods, food and nutrition in line with the National Development Strategy 1 and also their empowerment and prosperity as envisioned in the country’s national vision.
The introduction of the free-range poultry standard brings in a much-needed quality assurance dimension that is set to change the poultry sub space for the better, said Masuka.
About 1.8 million rural households, which translate to about 3 million producers whose livelihoods were mostly in the production of livestock and crops, would be impacted positively by the move, as their income levels would also improve.
Masuka said the Presidential Poultry Scheme that was launched in 2022 would go a long way towards boosting the launched scheme.
In an effort to encourage the movement of people from urban centres to rural areas, Masuka said his Ministry was implementing a program called “peri-rural” through which those people practicing some agricultural activities around towns and cities are assisted to go and do it in the rural areas.