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July 17, 2012
Caesar hatches chicken project for his constituency

In an effort to assist St Vincent and the Grenadines in becoming self-sufficient in poultry and to reduce the foreign exchange spent on this commodity,{{more}} a poultry project has been launched in the South Central Windward Constituency, where 100 farmers have been given the opportunity raise over 5,000 chickens.

The project, which is the brain child of area representative and Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar, has as its objective to assist the Diamond Trust, a non-profit entity established for the purpose of developing and executing sustainable programs for poverty alleviation, environmental protection, and providing rural employment in South Central Windward, through firstly, a sustainable poultry project.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Sunday, Caesar said that the project, which was officially launched yesterday afternoon at the North Union Learning Resource Centre, will assist in the development of 100 viable small-scale broiler units of 50, 75 and 100 birds each.

The project will also enhance knowledge and capacities among farmer participants in poultry production; and promote greater economic security for the one hundred farmers participating, he said.

“This will be achieved by supporting the farmers from initial steps of purchasing and raising of the broilers, through marketing the locally grown, high-quality chicken meat to various markets, including tourism hotels and resorts,” he said.

St Vincent and the Grenadines, on average, consumes over EC$25 million worth of poultry products annually, Caesar said.

Funding for the project, according to Caesar, is currently being sought from several organizations locally and internationally. The Grenadines Partnership Fund has facilitated the start-up of the project. The first phase of the project is estimated to cost US$51,000.00.

Caesar disclosed that the 100 farmers participating in the project have been actively involved in the business of agriculture and rural development, and have been adversely affected by the fallout in the banana industry because of Hurricane Tomas and the Black Sigatoka disease.

He further advised that “it is a prerequisite for participation in the project that all farmers are registered with the Ministry of Agriculture.

“Farmers will be trained in animal husbandry, book-keeping, conservation practices, environmental health and preservation related to poultry production. Finally, a cooperative of poultry farmers will be created to ensure the long-term management and sustainability of the project,” Caesar said.

It was also revealed that the farmers will be provided with 100% financing for the fixed costs for one production cycle of poultry.

Farmers will, however, provide 75% of the cost of construction of the pens, using local materials on the advice of the Ministry of Agriculture, and 100% of the labour. Reinvestment of a significant portion of the profits of the first production cycle will be deducted, to be placed back into the project which will assist in making this a self-sustaining project.

“Fifty-percent of the total sales will be used to invest into the purchasing of birds and feeds for the next cycle. The balance of the income from sales will be used to pay farmers, who will be advised to use the money to cover their utility bills – electricity and water. This approach addresses the main project goal: to alleviate poverty in a sustainable way.

“The Ministry of Agriculture will provide technical assistance to farmer participants. They will undertake training in all relevant aspects of animal husbandry to raise their competency level to ensure viability of the project,” he said.

According to Caesar, consideration will be given to gender issues to ensure that there is no gender bias and to seek to ensure that women farmers, as well as men, benefit from the project in a substantive way.

A special youth component is tied into the project which is expected to drive the organization’s thrust of youth in agriculture.(AA)