BUTHA-BUTHE – The Butha-Buthe branch of the Basotho Poultry Farmers Association (BAPOFA) received a grant of M473 500 from South African mining company, Harmony Gold Mining, towards the construction of a chicken abattoir.
The donation was handed over last Thursday in an event attended by Agriculture and Food Security Minister ‘Mapalesa Mothokho, Harmony Gold Mining representative Lebohang Shabe and officials from the Mineworkers Development Agency (MDA) among others.
The MDA is an agency that assists former mine workers and their communities in southern Africa. It was instrumental in developing the successful proposal to the donor.
The MDA will also be responsible for overseeing the sustainable implementation of the abattoir project which is estimated to have a capacity to process 2 000 birds per day.
The abattoir equipment was also secured with support from the Smallholder Agricultural Development Project run through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
In his address, BAPOFA President Daniel Khorong said the grant would help increase chicken production in the country. He said the funding would address one of the key gaps in the domestic chicken value chain with the establishment of the abattoir.
“The association recently trained over 300 poultry farmers, although one of the major challenges we still face is the need to import many inputs for chicken production from South Africa,” said Mr Khorong.
“This leads to high costs of production and prices domestic chicken out of the market.”
He said due to lack of domestic hatchery services, poultry farmers have to import fertilised eggs from South Africa which are negatively affected by travelling the long distance.
“It results in compromised hatchability of the eggs and deformed chicks that need more resources to fully grow,” Mr Khorong said.
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“It is a disgrace that we are unable to produce our own food like other African states and have to depend on South Africa.”
BAPOFA’s Butha-Buthe district chairperson, Pereko Lentsoenyane, said the abattoir would conform to international standards to ensure that the chickens could access the formal market.
“Making inroads into the international market was a challenge before this new abattoir,” he said.
On his part, Mr Shabe said the gesture was part of Harmony Gold Mining’s social responsibility programme to empower labour sending communities, adding that the mine was especially impressed by the initiative shown by the farmers in setting up the abattoir project.
“The farmers contributed the funds necessary to secure the plot of land on which the abattoir will be erected,” he said.
“They also contributed funds towards the construction of a building which has been completed although it will not be the used as the slaughter house as it lacks certain specifications.”
Mr Shabe added: “When a person shows initiative, it becomes easier for you to support them.
“The success of the abattoir project will depend on the farmers’ determination to stick together in facing the challenges that will come their way.”