MY EXPERIENCE AS A YOUTH IN AGRICULTURE, MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS AND SUCCESS STORY
My name is Rabiah Zuze and I am from Malawi. I am very delighted to be amongst the youths invited to attend the conference on Youth Employment in Agriculture as a Solid Solution to ending hunger and Poverty in Africa: Engaging through Information and Communication Technologies and Entrepreneurship
The idea of engaging myself in agribusiness came in when I was in college, particularly during the time we were introduced to this other course called agricultural-economics. After a month of learning this course, i became motivated to engage myself into agriculture sector. I came to think that i can do something on my own as a business pertaining to my profession of which will also contribute to food security and nutrition in my country when I finish college. I thought of growing maize for sale as my first business venture because our staple food is nsima which is made from maize flour. However I was undecided about my decision because getting a job was my first priority followed by doing farming for commercial purpose implying that getting a job after college was my top most wish.
Nevertheless after completion of my bachelor’s degree in food security and nutrition, jobs were hard to find which was contrary to what I have always expected. With that situation I came back to the idea of growing maize for commercial purpose. However, I dropped the idea of maize production because there was too much competition at that time hence a lot of people were selling maize. However that did not stop my passion at all of becoming engaged in agribusiness .I was still thinking of other ideas pertaining to agriculture. After some months I still couldn’t find a permanent job. Therefore, to make ends meet, I borrowed some money from a friend which added to what I had been saving. The money was enough to start business of rearing hybrid (broiler) chickens. I started with 30 chickens only of which I sold after they reached maturity stage (six weeks). It was at that point when i realized that poultry farming would be the business for me to fulfill my desire of doing something on my own pertaining to my career. I was overwhelmed because I have always wanted to apply what I learnt in class into practice as one way of improving food security and nutrition in my community .Thereafter I reared 50 hybrid chickens but this time around it wasn’t easy because the feed for hybrid chickens became very expensive and I did not have enough money to feed the chickens as per recommended. Unluckily the chickens were also attacked of diseases so I struggled this time around hence I lost 15 chickens due to the attack.
Nevertheless giving up was not my option, despite those challenges I continued doing poultry farming as a business but then I switched to rearing local chickens. After weighing the options of raising hybrid chickens to local chickens i discovered that rearing local chickens was cheaper considering the following; Housing is cheaper, the feed is cheaper hence i use locally available materials to make them on my own, they don’t easily catch diseases, the selling price is much higher compared to hybrid chickens despite the fact that they take time to be fully grown for sale. To compensate the issue of late maturity, i rear improved local breeds that are fast reproducers and resistant to parasites and diseases which give me quick returns on the investment. Farming is really an effective business opportunity hence I have witnessed the goodness of that myself. I now have many customers and I am able to pay myself a salary and contribute to some of the family expenses. I have also used some of the profits from the poultry enterprise to start another business in hair products for women. I have also managed to employ one person who helps me to take care of the livestock together with my mother when I am not around and I look forward to employing more people as the business grows because I would want the business to keep going even if I get a job.
Food is one of the great universals in our lives and one of the things that brings us together. From my experience, surely livestock farming plays a major role as buffers and extenders and they act as protective measures in situations of unforeseen circumstances hence one can sell eggs or even the chickens from the farm for an immediate need. In this context one can buy food hence providing distinct advantages to improve nutrition and increase income from sales. And that makes poultry farming as an agricultural business one of the steps of providing a solid solution to ending poverty and hunger in Africa.