The Scientific and Industrial Research Development Corporation (SIRDIC) says small holder farmers have the potential to increase earnings from poultry through adopting commercial strategies.

To capacitate small holder poultry producers overcome several production challenges, SIRDIC in collaboration with the Korea Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KAFICI) have launched a chicken production manual.

SIRDIC Biotechnology Research Institute Director, Dr Dexter Savadye said farmers are engaging in haphazard production but the manual features standard best practices that enable them to unlock commercial value.

“The production manual is motivated by the need to standardise the production processes. Most of the farmers were just producing but not looking at quality, so the manual will also help them to contribute meaningfully to the chicken value chain. Also contained in the manual is a component on business where we advise them to keep records,” Dr Savadye said.

SIRDIC Principal Author, Irvonnie Shoko said the majority of poultry producers have been recording losses due to disease outbreaks and this will be also addressed in the manual.

“The manual covers the rearing broilers, layers and free range poultry, addressing issues to do with feeding techniques, ¬†environmental management, how to hatch chicks using incubators and also how to deal with diseases,” Shoko said.

The poultry industry in Zimbabwe recorded a 1 percent slump in 2016 after producing 74,8 million broiler day old chicks, according to the Zimbabwe Poultry Association.

Total broiler meat production in 2016, inclusive of informal production, was estimated to be 118,000mt, with 70 per cent from smallholder producers.