Mr. Hussein Jakhura, the Chief Executive Officer of Nyama World Ltd, one of the leading retail meat processors and traders in Malawi visited InCIP research facilities at Bunda Campus of LUANAR on 23rd May 2014 after networking during the stakeholder workshop at Crossroads Hotel, Lilongwe.
During the visit the teams discussed strategies to formalize indigenous chicken marketing. Mr. Jakhura reiterated the high demand for IC products. He noted that of every 10 customers demanding poultry meat and eggs they offered, 7 demanded IC products.
Mr. Jakhura expressed concern that Nyama World faces problems of regular supply of both meat and eggs from IC, and expressed the need for InCIP and other related projects to organize farmers to be supplying 1000 kg of IC meat every day.
Following the presentation from Nyama World CEO, InCIP took up the initiative to organize farmers from around Bunda and disseminated messages to Extension Officers at Mkwinda and Mitundu Extension Planning Areas of the demand.
During the meeting, the CEO of Nyama World toured InCIP facilities including the breeding, multiplication and hatching units. The CEO also visited the butchery at Bunda Campus that has facilities for slaughtering chicken.
The CEO was so impressed that he brought in a proposal to partner with LUANAR to rehabilitate the butchery and use it as a slaughter point for IC and local goats for its retail shops.
The proposal also included organizing farmers to bring their IC to the butchery for slaughter. The concept, that constitutes a Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach, was welcomed by InCIP who developed a concept note and presented to Management of LUANAR for top level policy decision.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Emmanuel Kaunda, welcomed the concept and promised to table the same at University Management. Meanwhile, InCIP went on organizing farmers to bring their IC for slaughter and sell to Nyama World from the butchery.
Nyama World buys broiler chickens dressed at MK1000.00 per kg but promised a 10 – 20 % top up on IC. Nyama World buying birds directly from the farmers would help them bypass the middle men who are often exploitative.
This venture has had its fair share of challenges. Despite various calls for farmers to sell their IC, less than 10 tried the system. This raised questions as to why farmers do not respond to the demand.
Some of the reasons included less need for farmers to sell their birds during the dry season when harvest is still plenty; farmers have small flock sizes and would mean depleting the IC. Some farmers, given the location of the butchery unit, suspected they would be taxed or charged some fees.
InCIP responded by increasing interventions to the farming communities through distributing fertile eggs from genetically evaluated birds at its breeding unit. These eggs were set on hens that were laying and about to sit on its eggs. Half of the eggs were removed and replaced by eggs from the breeding unit.
Households were advised to consume the eggs taken from the hen; an intervention that enhanced household nutrition. In addition, communities surrounding Bunda were encouraged to vaccinate their IC flocks against Newcastle disease (NCD).
InCIP facilitated access to the vaccine which was provided to farmers in communities on a cost-recovery system. This, plus the initial intervention of distributing cocks to communities, would promote flock sizes and hence have surplus for sale to Nyama World.
Despite the above effort, farmers did not prefer formal marketing of IC since selling birds on dressed weight basis did not give farmers more money than that offered by middle men. This revelation brought another dimension to InCIP who, together with its Agribusiness Expert, Dr. Joseph Dzanja, entered into a rapid evaluation of IC marketing in commodity markets.
This quick assessment revealed that farmers sell a live hen between MK1500.00 and MK2000.00 and a cock between MK2500 and MK2800.00 to middlemen. Middlemen then sold the chicken to consumers in institutions and city commodity markets at a mark-up of between MK3000.00 and MK5000.00 per live bird.
Further studies by students at LUANAR found that carcasses of IC weigh about 700 g in hens; 1000 g cocks. This indeed invalidated the selling of IC based on dressed weight and hence the problems for the IC to enter the formal market. A feedback was presented to Nyama World through emails and during the visit made by the CEO to LUANAR on 9th September 2014.
Forward thinking, the demand for IC keeps growing but supply to the formal market is still challenged. Interviews with a few middlemen also confirmed the huge demand for IC compared to broilers at commodity markets and restaurants.
Formalizing the IC market requires further effort, and InCIP would like to embark on genetically improving the frame of IC to attain dressed weights of over 1 kg in hens and close to 2 kg in cocks at earlier ages of 4 to 5 months.
This will enable communities to profitably sell the birds to formal meat retail shops. Nyama World has proposed to set up an IC breeding and research centre at LUANAR through farmer, researcher and private sector approach as part of the partnership.
Currently the proposal is still to be tabled to the university management for informed decision. InCIP has also identified phenotypes of high growth performances that will be used for selective breeding and multiplication. The Agribusiness team is evaluating the feasibility of IC marketing in both formal and informal channels.
In addition, Farmers Union of Malawi has joined hands to use the unmet demand as potential to enhance resource poor households through enhanced IC initiatives.