Tue, 28 Nov 2017
RWANDA - Ambitious plans have been announced by the Rwandan government to increase the country’s chicken population by four million over the next five years, according to Chris McCullough.
In turn, this will take the total chicken population to 11 million by 2023 and increase egg production by 143 per cent in the east African country.
The bold move was announced by the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, in a bid to increase protein availability and help improve nutrition for the Rwandan people.
During talks with government institutions, development partners, and members of Rwandan Parliament, the Minister laid out her plans on how to further develop the economy while at the same time achieving farming targets.
She said the move was "intended to scale up the livestock sector, especially chickens, which have more proteins and rapidly contribute to improved nutrition among Rwandans."
Back in 2010, MINAGRI figures show that the country had 3.5 million chickens. Egg production that same year was 80 million which later increased to 157.7 million in 2016.
According to these figures a Rwandan ate about seven eggs per year in 2010, or half an egg per month, which increased to 13 eggs in 2016, about one egg per month, which are very low consumption statistics.
Numerous bodies, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), say increased egg production and consumption in the developing world could significantly improve food and nutrition security.
Eggs are indeed a high source of protein, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, that can help with forming a healthy diet.
Eggs consumption in Africa ranges from as low as 300 grammes per person per year to as high as 19.1 kilogrammes in other countries such as Japan, according to FAO's statistics for 2012.
However, farmers in Rwanda report they are hindered in developing their poultry flocks as the cost of feed is much higher than the returns from eggs and poultry meat.
Addressing the issue of costs of production, Minister Mukeshimana mentioned a company that is training people who will rear the chicks up to six months, which will then be sold on to farmers.
She said: "We are working with people who produce day-old chicks so that we set up a system which will allow a smallholder farmer to get the chicks after six months for them to be able to spend less money rearing the chicks, as after three months, they can get yields."
There is room for improvement in developing chicken breeds in Rwanda as the population contains both exotic breeds and indigenous breeds.
The exotic breeds, which account for 40 per cent of the population, have an annual laying capacity ranging from 300 to 350 eggs per hen but local breeds can only average from 40 to 100 eggs.
Minister Mukeshimana also said the ministry was working with chicken feed producers to encourage them to produce larger quantities of feed in order to reduce the price and open more selling points around the country.
Rwanda produced around 30,000 tonnes of poultry meat in 2016 which was about 30 per cent of the total meat production that year of 116,000 tonnes.