Clive Bryan, Gleaner Writer
Ten small farmers in St. Andrew are being assisted with the production of poultry meat under a $3.75 million Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) funded project.
This backyard poultry project, under which five farmers from Brandon Hill and five others from Mount Friendship have benefited, forms part of the FAO's support for food security. The farmers began production of poultry meat in June this year.
Lennox Hemans, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority's (RADA) extension officer for the Temple Hall area, says that each of the 10 female farmers was given material and resources valued at approximately $200,000. He explains that the assistance includes materials to construct a 20 by 10 feet chicken coop; an equipped 14 by 10 feet slaughtering unit; 200 chickens valued at $7,000 and 40 bags of chicken feed valued at $22,000.
The RADA extension officer says that the cost per unit for construction material ranges between $150,000 and $170,000. The beneficiaries provide the labour costs which range between $50,000 and $60,000 per unit. Stressing the relevance of food security and importance of food safety, Mr. Hemans points to the stainless steel tables, sinks and water tanks that are necessary in the slaughtering unit. "These slaughtering units are of the standard of facilities used by well-run commercial entities," Hemans says.
The selection of women for the project falls in line with efforts to enhance and improve the ability of female heads of households to provide for their families.
Mr. Hemans says production is streamlined to allow for "more manageable marketing" of the chicken meat. The farmers, with the assistance of RADA, sell mainly to wholesalers and canteens. So far there has been no problem in finding buyers, the RADA officer says.
Leader of the Mount Friendship beneficiaries, Josephine Hamilton, who is now moving on to her fifth batch of chickens, the project, has forced the farmers to become more disciplined in their approach, since they must meet certain critical deadlines to get the best possible results. She says the returns so far are encouraging.
"The farmers are working closer now, especially at slaughtering time, and so we are working towards the launch of a co-operative at an early date," Ms. Hamilton told Farmers Weekly.