In the words of Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”, Princewell is one man living and putting to test these words by taking his passion in poultry farming into a test. Princewell (PW) is always there on Twitter mostly sharing his story, pictures, and updates on his roadrunner farming, something which has helped market his business and inspire someone out there. Coach Mallvine (CM), our Productions Manager, caught up with Princewell for an online interview, and below is how it went along. Enjoy the interview and don’t forget to subscribe to stay tuned for more interviews and updates.
CM: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
PW: Real name Terence Maphosa, a young passionate roadrunner Farmer in his late 30s.
CM: What brought you into farming?
PW: On this one there are a lot of reasons:
- Availability of idleness in my rural area which I saw as a chance to put up something productive and since I had no water, the only idea that looked feasible out of the many I had was road runners.
- Passion for roadrunners, before these exotic breeds I was doing the ordinary kumusha roadrunners. So, it became a transition into something catchy more advanced on a larger scale.
- Roadrunner farming is not congested that much so, I saw an opportunity that I could use and it worked perfectly.
CM: How big is your farm and what are you currently farming?
PW: This is not a “Farm” as you might call it. It is a resettlement area, but I have a good space which is up to 6 hectares for the chickens and 5hectares for crop farming. It is located in Mhondoro Ngezi. For the crops, I focus mainly on maize, sunflower, soya, and sorghum. These crops reduce the costs of buying feeds.
CM: When did you start the chicken business?
PW: I started in November 2017.
CM: Tell us the types of chickens you sell.
PW: I have 5 breeds that I selected on basis of their different strengths and purposes. Black Australorp (a machine at laying eggs), Koekoek (good at eggs as well), Light Sussex (Both meat and eggs), Kuroila (Meat Master….weighs heavy), Jersey Giant (Meat Master). I have a 6th which is the Buff Orpington but I see it is as a flower that I like seeing around.
CM: Which is the best chicken breeds to keep and why?
PW: Black Australorp, Chicken business needs a bird that lays more so that you minimize the costs. It grows big as well and that will make it marketable for meat. However, I should point out that it differs with farmer’s preferences and also some parts of the community have certain beliefs attached to a black chicken. In that case the Koekoek will come second.
CM: How many hours do you work per day and what is your typical day like?
PW: Roadrunner farming needs all day attention. Feeding, giving medicines to the ones that are sick, cleaning food troughs, etc.
CM: Has it been viewed as more of a business for you or a lifestyle choice? Some combination of both?
PW: To be honest, it started as a business but it grew to be at the heart of my lifestyle. I woke up every day feeling proud of being a roadrunner. So, now I live in the roadrunner business.
CM: What is the most satisfying part of farming for you?
PW: The most satisfying part is having a product that the market has approved and is confident. That alone will give you extra energy to work even harder.
CM: What motivates you and how do you deal with negativity and any feeling of giving up?
PW: The greatest motivation is me, I look back and say, I cannot go back to the past life, so the only option is to push. Negativity will always be there and some will even destroy your brand but I always try to engage those who think I went off rail or I didn’t offer a good service. The problem is, people usually appreciate through hate. They hate what they like. So the best way is to engage and find a solution.
CM: What is your current take on youth participation in agriculture and how best can they become effective and active participants in this industry?
PW: Youth out there are desiring to go all out for farming but access to land and capital hinders a lot of us to participate in farming. We have the zeal but we don’t have a chance to express it. The government must identify youth with potential and empower them with ideas and inputs. Without that, farming will remain a thing of an idea to youth.
CM: Have you benefitted from any government or social programs to boost your agriculture business, if not are you looking forward to any?
PW: No. Not as of yet. If the help comes I will take it with both hands. I’m a citizen of the country and if the government sees it fit, I will take them and utilize them without fail.
CM: Many a time, access to finance and support systems are usually not in favor of subsistence farmers. How do you think the situation can be improved and work to boost and support the subsistence farmer?
PW: I am one of the subsistence farmers in Zimbabwe and I am thriving on the small space that I have. So the government may also consider looking into aiding us to boost our projects from the small pieces of land that we have.
CM: With regards to the market and marketing, how responsive has it been, and how you have been effectively marketing your business?
PW: Honestly, Twitter has been the base for my customers. All referrals and recommendations are mostly coming from Twitter. The key is being consistent and not supplying wrong or fake products. As far as to this level, the market has been quite fair to me. I market my chocks on social platforms that are, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter. This is done by me and the aid of all people reading this interview.
CM: Tell us, how is the chicken Market in Zimbabwe and how can we improve our Chicken’s quality?
PW: The chicken business in Zimbabwe has always been there and it was more of broiler productions but the roadrunner business is of growth over the past 5 to 6 years. The marker is high because people are slowly moving to organic meat which I assume will overtake the broiler business in no time. However, we must reach a level of making our own breeds named after us, and unique breeds registered from Zimbabwe. We are focusing on importing breeds from other countries, yet, we cannot make our own. It is my dream that I will see that wish be of reality.
CM: What has been our greatest obstacle in your hustle and how did you manage to overcome that?
PW: My greatest obstacle has been on feed. Generally, feed in Zimbabwe is expensive and the profit margin is thin, so, for a farmer starting to grow it becomes a great challenge. However, planting your feed has been the solution and as for now I have no complaints.
CM: Any mistakes you have made in farming that you regret or have managed to learn from?
PW: My greatest mistake was in 2018 when I almost sold all my chickens due to frustration. The market was not giving a favorable response and I sold a lot of birds. Later the market gave a positive response when I was almost giving up. It is now a story of the past and I learnt the virtue of patience. Every farmer out there must know, as long as you have a good product, people will buy no matter what.
CM: What advice can you give to the chicken farmer out there who is also looking forward to growing their farming too?
PW: To the small farmer out there; take your time to set your things, there is no competition in farming, the industry is not flooded, market is there go to the drawing board and set your things in the right place then come out with guns blazing and grow big. Whatever line you take in farming, just push to have the best product and remember, “honesty” is key. Have good breeds that are compatible with any environment. It is not about having many breeds but the type of a breed.
CM: What are the keys to success in farming, particularly the poultry business?
PW: Have the best products, be honest, transparent, deliver, and lastly, work hard.
CM: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
PW: In 5 years to come I will be in the process of perfecting my own breeds and constantly supplying roadrunner meat.
CM: Where can people find you?
PW: I am based in Harare and as for my project it is in Mhondoro Ngezi.
CM: How do you see your role in the community?
PW: I see myself in the sense of a role model. With the growth in business follows a bit of dignity and responsibility. People expect much and you to act a certain way. Therefore, I accept that because some will be looking up to me as a role model it becomes my role in the community.
CM: Please give us your social media pages.
Facebook: Prince Machiavelli Chickens; Twitter: @terrymap1