Power shortages threaten chicken, egg production

Power shortages threaten chicken, egg production

By Malawo Malawo

THE Poultry Association of Zambia says recurrent power outages are slowing the growth of the sector.

And the association has cautioned that unless something is done to counter the hardships that beset the poultry sector, Zambia will soon resort to importing eggs and chickens.

In an interview, PAZ president Rhodnie Sisala explained that stable power supply is required to grow chickens and produce eggs.
“For us to grow chicken in an optimum time, a chicken needs to have longer feeding hours -12 hours. So if you have a situation where you have frequent power outages, it means that the feeding pattern for the chicken is disrupted and therefore, chickens that are supposed to be ready, for example, in five or six weeks, you might find that they take seven or eight weeks to grow,” Sisala explained.

“The growth rate is greatly reduced and production of eggs is greatly reduced. So, the profitability of poultry farming is greatly affected by power interruptions. Talk of farm security, availability of water; they are all affected by power interruptions.”

He also said poultry farmers could not invest in alternative sources of power.

“So it (power outages) is an area that is of major concern to us. What do you expect poultry farmers to do? If they invest in alternative methods of generating power, that will be more expensive as it will add on to the cost of producing chicken and the cost of procuring a tray of eggs. Are you, as a consumer, willing to take up that additional cost? We are really in an environment where the buying power of our customers is severely restricted,” observed Sisala.

“A number of farmers already have gone out of the business of producing eggs because of the various challenges that are being experienced in the sector. Zambia used to be a net exporter of eggs but unless something is done now, we are going to find that very soon, we’ll be using our hard currency to import eggs and chicken, which is not a desirable situation.”