CHICKEN farming has become very popular in Zimbabwe, as people try to find extra income amid the growing economic challenges and high unemployment levels in the country. Many are taking poultry as an income generating project selling broilers with road runners being the most profitable due high market demand.
Zimbabwe’s Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, recently pointed out that agriculture is a significant industry in the country and continues to occupy a dominant role in the recovery of the economy and has beforehand contributed up to 20% of the country’s GDP, 33% to formal employment, 65% of raw materials requirement to agro-industries, and account for the livelihoods of 67% of the population which live in rural areas as smallholder farmers.
Most urban dwellers have taken to poultry business like fish taking to water to ensure that they are economically empowered. Evangelista Chekera is one such person who has made a name for herself through her Passion poultry business by developing simple and smart technologies to enhance livestock production in the country.
“We design, manufacture and distribute poultry slaughtering cones that ease the slaughtering birds. It takes 2 minutes to slaughter a bird using the slaughtering cone as compared to 5 minutes when using traditional methods such as the stepping on legs and wings,” Evangelista told the Entrepreneurial Magazine.
“There is also no splashing of blood on people or on the environment as the blood will drip into the drip container provided. This blood can also be frozen and used as dog food. There is also 100% no breaking of wings or fracturing of bones, hence farmers get the perfectly dressed chicken that retains customers.
“We also manufacture brooder rings to keep chicks in a confined area during the first 14 days. The chicks will have easy access to feed during these days and they grow easily. It is also easier to monitor these birds since there will be in batches of 100. For birds more than 100, the brooder ring can be used as a fowl run divider. Poultry growers are able to fold this brooder ring and use it for the following batches. The material we use is easy to use and can last for a minimum of 3 years.”
Evangelista added that her business also offers other services like slaughtering and plucking services and consultancy, and customised proposals and plans also to help poultry farmers turn their projects into businesses.
“A lot of poultry farmers within my community get a chance to sample my innovations first. I have also realised that my journey has inspired a lot of young women to start business,” she said.
Narrating her entrepreneurial journey, Evangelista said after college where she was studying Psychology, she managed to work for 5 years with a couple of Non-Governmental Organisations as well as a private company.
“In 2015 I couldn’t find a job and the only thing I knew was broiler rearing. Since I spend a lot of time at home, I would listen to the radio a lot. I started to listen to Star FM and their programming was amazing. I would listen to shows like purse strings and shot in the arm. Those are the two programs that inspired me to start thinking about projects that I could start,” she said.
“In September 2016 Passion Poultry was born to provide poultry brooding and processing equipment for small scale farmers, who did not have access to such. I remember sharing my idea with Winston Zvirikuzhe and he saw something in it. We had several chats on how we could turn it into a business. I started with what I had.
“My uncle who is a fabricator helped me come up with my first prototypes that I took to the market. I started getting orders from our neighbors and other farmers. I decided to look for opportunities that could help me in my journey and came across Boost Fellowship where I enrolled for the Barclays Boost Fellowship program. I met Bertha Ndlovu who became my mentor and has been helpful in my journey.”
Evangelista was also part of a couple of programs that include the ACT in Africa Design Thinking program. In 2019 she won a couple of awards and her biggest achievement was being the first Zimbabwean to be a keynote speaker at the Royal Academy of Engineering Global grant challenges in London.
She highlighted that the challenge she faced as a startup was getting into partnerships without signed agreements, and that had always backfired on her, adding that at one point she wanted to give up, however but her mentors encouraged her to stay in the game and now she is glad she did.
Meanwhile, the government recently announced plans to launch the Presidential Rural Poultry Scheme at the national launch of the Livestock Production Systems-Zimbabwe (LIPS-ZIM) project, which is being funded to the tune of almost US$ 6 million through a grant to the Government of Zimbabwe.
The project, which will run until December 2023, seeks to adopt an adaptive research methodology approach through testing and developing technologies and models in ensuring climate smart feeding practices and disease surveillance to enhance livestock production and productivity in the country. The approach will take into consideration Indigenous Knowledge Systems as one of the tools in increasing adoption of appropriate innovations to boost the livestock sector.