By Mark Mhukayesango
Lower Gweru, March 28, 2016 – MOUD Mapemba is a 42 year-old widow from Lower Gweru’s Mabolweni area who has quit doing poultry and ventured into quail bird farming.
For someone who lives in an area that has not survived the devastating drought and having found it tougher in her poultry project, doing quail bird farming was the best option for her.
Mapemba started her new project with 100 birds but in a year, she has tripled the number of birds.
“When I was introduced to this business, I was sceptical about its profitability,” she says.
“But this is a low cost business because the birds do not require special conditions like broilers; this helps any low income farmer to also start the project.”
Likewise, Mapemba has become handy to other widows like her in the rural neighbourhood, helping them with the know-how to live from the business while escaping the effects of the current El Nino induced drought.
“Most farmers in my area have also joined the business and mostly women are now self sufficient as they can sell the birds for meat and eggs,” she says.
“The money we get from selling quail meat and eggs is enough to sustain us throughout the month.
“I am able to buy maize because we have since run out of maize supplies in our area.”
Mapemba says many farmers were however unaware of the great potential locked in a business seemingly less profitable.
According to medical professionals, quail birds are a delicacy with high nutritional value with properties healing ailments including insomnia, nervous system disorder and cancers.
Quail eggs are more nutritious than other poultry eggs because they eggs contain comparatively more protein, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, B1 and B2.
Quail farming can play a vital role to meet up the demand of food and nutrition.
“Through the awareness campaigns we attended, the farmers realised that there is a need for incubators so that the eggs to do get damaged before hatching. This will help us realise profits more from this business,” Melody Koga, a quail farmer in Maboleni said.
According to the Zimbabwe Quail Farmers Trust, quails do not incubate eggs hence the need for an incubator.
The farmers are urged by the Ministry of Agriculture to build a center incubator in Maboleni which is expected to house 800 eggs at a time.
Gift Hlazo, an agricultural economist based in Gweru said farmers should venture into quail bird farming due to the low costs associated with the business.
“The quail business is very economical and it is likely to surpass other forms of poultry in the near future. Farmers are encouraged to take advantage of the high demand for the quail birds and grow their businesses,” Hlazo told RadioVOP.
“With the benefits derived from this type of poultry, we are likely to see a massive exodus from the traditional poultry to quail birds,” said Hlazo.
Quail manure is high in ammonia nitrate and can be used as fertilizer.
One of the advantages of quail farming is that the bird is not as susceptible to diseases as chicken and they also do not consume as much feed, one bird consumes an average of 20 to 30 grammes a day.
Quails start laying eggs after about six weeks and they produce fertile eggs from eight weeks once they begin mating.