Irvines-Chicken-and-EggsMartin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S largest day-old chicks producer Irvine’s plans to increase production by 66 percent in the next two years following a $7 million investment in its poultry value chain.

The company is currently supplying 600 000 day-old chicks per week and could go up to as much as one million by 2017, processing plant manager Mr Vincent Moyo said.

“Demand is rising due to low imports and with these investments, we should be able to increase our supplies to one million in the next two years,” Mr Moyo said last week.

He said Irvine’s, a subsidiary of Innscor, has taken a long-term view by investing in operations despite the tough business environment prevailing in the country.

“We are having a long-term view and we are saying the challenges are temporary and we are hoping to see some positive outcome in the future”, the company’s mill executive Martin Ndengu said.

The $7 million was spent on feed mill and construction of grain storage vessels with capacity of 12 000 tonnes. The company, which commands 50 percent of the poultry market, is also spending money on out grower programmes under contract schemes and is assisting farmers with chicks, feed and construction of chicken houses.

Regional technical services manager Mr Edwin Ngonyamo said the bulk of the chicks were being supplied to communal areas and the company has established more than 50 distribution centres across the country.

“At these designated points, that is where farmers get access to feed, equipment and free training sessions,” said Mr Ngonyamo.

He added that the company has also set up five modern chicken houses in five provinces with holding capacity of 2 000 birds.

“We have built five modern chicken houses in five provinces at schools and these are run by communities with the proceeds channelled towards augmenting the schools’ budget while the facilities are also being used for training rural farmers in the neighbourhood,” said Mr Ngonyamo.

He said the company was also looking at building more facilities in other provinces. Irvine’s training programmes have been well-received and have empowered small-scale farmers to produce poultry, not only improving nutrition but also providing family income.

Irvine’s chicken abattoir has the capacity to process 12 million chickens per year and about 80 percent of the chickens come from contracted farmers.

Mr Ndengu said the company was also supporting local farmers through the purchase of grain and soya beans, the key raw materials for the production of feed stock.