YALI Network members have been reaching out this month, describing their efforts to increase their farm production and scale up agricultural enterprises. Thobile Dlamini, a Network member in the Lubombo region of Swaziland, decided to make her poultry enterprise more self-sustaining by cultivating field crops to use as chicken feed.
Dlamini: I am no longer buying chicken feed from shops. I use what I harvest since I also farm corn and sunflower to feed the chickens. I have about five hectares planted in yellow corn and sunflower, which provide feed for about 600 chickens. I raise the poultry to sell for meat.
Q: How does that one action boost your overall agricultural business?
Dlamini: It Increases employment opportunities for the community as some are employed to raise chickens whilst others are employed in the crop production. This further promotes unity and collaboration in the community.
Ever since the project started, crime has been reduced in the area and people are learning to be self-sustainable. Many are now trying to do similar projects and others are opening new ventures which promotes community networking and responsibility.
The funds generated from the project are used to uplift lives of the members and employees of the project and further used to expand the base of the business.
Q: How has raising your own chicken feed provided a gain for the enterprise?
Dlamini: Since we started ploughing and planting the chicken feed ourselves, we have seen a drop in costs, and instead those funds are now used to expand the project. This project is also interesting because I am not buying manure for fertilizer. I took the chickens’ waste, and it works as good as manure for ploughed chicken feed.
Q: How do you hope to further expand?
Dlamini: I have 5 more hectares of land in which I could expand, but I’m reliant on rainfall now. Attempting to cultivate the additional land could put me at a high risk in case of drought. My dream is to drill a borehole for a stable water supply. With that, I then might hope to increase production to at least 1,000 chickens per week, providing me greater capital to buy further equipment to distribute to some of the big stores we have in Swaziland.
I want to build the capacity to steadily supply these stores with chicken portions labeled as my own brand. Then I’d be at a breakthrough point to provide job opportunities for more of the people in my community.
I bring this philosophy to my business plan: Business originates from love, ideas, knowledge and sharing the needs of the people and the community. Bonding with your business makes you come up with ideas on how to find the funds to keep it going and growing.