[Editorial] Revamp poultry sector to spur national development

THE government plans to increase the number of chicken from 7 million to about 11 million by 2023. The Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana announced the plan last week during a high-level dialogue between government institutions, development partners, and members of Parliament. The dialogue focused on how to achieve farming targets and economic development.

THE government plans to increase the number of chicken from 7 million to about 11 million by 2023. The Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana announced the plan last week during a high-level dialogue between government institutions, development partners, and members of Parliament. The dialogue focused on how to achieve farming targets and economic development.

Poultry farming has capacity to boost national development, and improve standards of living, especially among the poor in rural areas.

If the poultry sector is transformed, the poverty levels will drastically fall because poultry is a viable income generating activity and does not require a lot of land.

With the growing hotel and services sector, demand for poultry products will continue to grow and hence this calls for more investment in poultry.

Concerned stakeholders should embark on capacity building for small scale poultry farmers, if this target is to be achieved.

Also, poultry products like eggs are key in addressing nutritional needs in developing countries. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), increased egg production and consumption in the developing world could significantly improve food and nutrition security, especially for children. Eggs are a source of high-quality protein, essential vitamins, and minerals that are needed for a healthy diet and a healthy life.

Africa’s annual consumption of eggs per person is still low compared to developed countries. Annual consumption of eggs ranges from as low as 300 grammes per person in some African countries, yet in the developed world it is as high as 19.1 kilogrammes, according to FAO.

However, challenges of poultry farmers have to be addressed if the target of transforming the poultry sector is to be achieved, especially in terms of availing affordable feeds to poultry farmers. The ministry should subsidize chicken feed producers to produce feeds on a large scale, which will reduce the cost of production and ease access to farmers.

According to information from Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), poultry contributed to about 116,000 tonnes to overall meat production in 2016 from 86,000 tonnes in 2015. To improve on this figure, challenges faced by the poultry sector must be addressed without any delay.

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