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Unemployed Cato Crest women start chicken farm to feed their families

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“We are determined to make a success of this”

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Some of the 160 eggs the women of Khenana informal settlement in Cato Crest, Durban, hope will hatch soon and help grow their chicken farm venture. Photo: Nokulunga Majola

A group of 39 women from Khenana informal settlement in Cato Crest, Durban, are farming free range “Zulu” chickens to support their families.

They started in January with about 20 chicks which they bought for R20 each. By the end of March, they had about 80 chickens, but 65 died in the first few months of lockdown. They currently have about 15 chickens and a dozen chicks.

The women have bought and converted two wendy houses into a chicken coop.

Bongathini Xaba says some of the women had jobs before lockdown, but employment opportunities have become scarce. “When we started the project, it was to help sustain us together with our other projects in the settlement. We have families back home that we support. Most of us are out of work at the moment, so this helps us make an income,” says Xaba.

The women say they will be using heaters to keep the chicks warm during winter and an incubator to start fertilizing eggs themselves.

Xaba says it takes about 21 days for eggs to hatch and they currently have 160 eggs in the incubator. These are expected to hatch within the next three weeks. “The incubator was R4,200 and we bought a battery for backup during load shedding. We are so excited to see what will come out of this,” says Xaba.

Nokuthula Mabaso says they started the project with little to no experience in chicken farming. “We have someone advising us on what to do and what is needed … We are determined to make a success of this and for us to one day say, we, the women of Khenana informal settlement, did this,” says Mabaso.

One of the major challenges for their business is having to rely on illegal electricity which Mabaso says is often faulty. “That is why we have bought a battery as a backup just in case the power goes off. The shed must always be warm for the chicks to grow,” she says.

The chairperson of Khenana, Lindokuhle Mnguni, says he is very proud of the women for starting the project. “Life is not easy, especially now. You are lucky if you still have a job. We have been through a lot together in this settlement and it is only fair that we also empower one another. Whoever wants to start a project we help each other out,” says Mnguni.

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TOPICS:  Farming Unemployment

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