Maverick Citizen

Food Justice

INCUBATING THE FUTURE

Cato Ridge business association hatches a plan for KZN egg farmers

Cato Ridge business association hatches a plan for KZN egg farmers
A Cato Ridge, KwaZulu-Natal local business development association helps small-scale broiler farmers automate their egg hatching, helping to produce more chicks for growing and selling. (Photo: Gallo Images / Landbouweekblad / Johan Coetsee)

A business development association is helping small-scale broiler farmers automate their egg-hatching ventures, creating more chicks for selling in rural KZN. This is all part of a plan to reinvigorate development in the Cato Ridge area.

Nompumelelo Msomi (38) from Emalangeni, Hammarsdale, had her egg and chicken business destroyed by hikes in chicken feed prices, bird flu and local service delivery challenges. 

cato ridge egg farmers msomi

Nompumelelo Msomi running her egg and chicken farm in Hammarsdale eMalangeni. She has faced challenges due to power failures, bird flu and chicken feed price hikes, but hopes automating some of her processes will help grow her business. (Photo supplied: Nompumelelo Msomi)

She is one of eight participants in a programme by the Hammarsdale Cato Ridge Development Association (HCRDA) and Dynamic Automation who have provided egg incubators that help hatch 49 eggs at a time. The programme also offers training in Hammarsdale, 30 minutes from Pietermaritzburg.

The eight participants went through training on 9 February on how to use these incubators. This ensures that aspiring egg farmers have the best chance of success.

cato ridge egg farmers

The Hammarsdale Cato Ridge Development Association, with Dynamic Automation, provided training to eight small-scale chicken farmers to advance their businesses. (Photo supplied: Facebook HCRDA)

HCRDA chief executive officer John White says: “Alone, the challenges are often overwhelming. Collaboration is essential if meaningful change is to be delivered.”

White says the association aims to advance Hammarsdale and Cato Ridge “as a desirable place to invest, work and live, thereby supporting growth, employment and transformation.” 

The association has more than 60 member companies from a range of industries including clothing, property, food production, security and communications.

Msomi says the training will be invaluable and the equipment will help speed up egg production.

“I am so happy I got this incubator because it will reduce the cost of buying chicks. I can hatch and produce my own chicks with it,” says Msomi.

Challenge

Msomi says her challenge now is to find alternative energy sources because of the regular power outages in Hammarsdale, along with load shedding. 

She says 2023 was particularly difficult.

“Last year was hard for my business… The chicken feed became too expensive so I had to increase my prices. After the bird flu hit, it became clear I could not continue.”

Msomi has no formal employment. Producing eggs and selling chickens is her primary source of income, which helps to feed seven family members. 

cato ridge egg farmers msomi

Nompumelelo Msomi running her egg and chicken farm in Hammarsdale, eMalangeni, KwaZulu-Natal. (Photo supplied: Nompumelelo Msomi)

Her goal is to have her own brand of chicken packs and expand enough to be able to employ others in her community.

“I aim to supply big supermarkets and produce for different communities. I also produce vegetables, so I hope all of this will come together to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Kathy Barnard, 47, lives in Peacevale and is in the free-range egg business. 

“I have approximately 40 Rhode Island Red chickens, black Australorps and 10 guinea fowl,” says Barnard. She says the incubator will boost the number of chickens she has and help create new opportunities like selling guinea fowl chicks. 

Barnard says her biggest challenges are infrastructure and poaching, especially of goats. Despite that, she is looking at gaps in the market she can fill.

cato ridge egg farmers barnard

Kathy Barnard from Peacevale hopes to develop a gap in the market by growing and selling guinea fowl and their chicks. (Photo: Kathy Barnard)

“I like the idea of free-range chickens, but in an area where chicks aren’t exposed to the risk of being taken by eagles. I think the guinea fowl venture is going to be a huge investment into my business as they are extremely hard to come by in KZN and they only breed once a year,” says Barnard.

“Guinea fowl perform an important function on my farm by eating ticks, which are a parasite for livestock. And the birds are just as good to eat as a chicken.

“I’ve been trying to replenish them on my farm in a wild capacity and realised, after doing some research, that they only breed once a year,” says Barnard.

“I think this is a gap in the market, providing birds at the chick stage. So I plan on building my flock and utilising that incubator.”

Although many established brands such as Rainbow Chicken, Pep and Ackermans have outlets in the vicinity, the area suffers from a lack of service delivery, poverty and unemployment. DM

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