Rwandan Company starts exporting chicks to other African countries


One of the biggest chick producing firms in Rwanda has started exporting day-old chicks to different African countries. Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) described this as a good development as the country continues boosting the poultry sector.  

Theoneste Sikubwabo, Sales and Marketing Manager at Uzima Chicken Ltd told The New Times that in 2021, the company exported about 600,000 day-old chicks, and about 100,000 hatching (fertilised) eggs (which are hatched by customers themselves in the export countries). 

However, he said that in the previous year (2020), the company had exported about 700,000 day-old chicks because there were many SASSO chicks that went to Uganda, but they (exports to that country) were blocked because of the strained relations between both countries.

Talking about other export markets, he said that the company was exporting day-old chicks to Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon (for fertilised eggs, but with a plan to also export chicks), Congo Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Uganda.

As of 2017, chicks reared in Rwanda were mainly imported from Europe, and some African countries, including Uganda.

Figures from RAB show that in 2017, Rwanda was importing some 50,000 day-old chicks and 100 tonnes of eggs per month.

It is to note that Rwanda’s poultry was still in its nascent stage by then, with very few large-scale farms.

Currently, three major poultry firms namely Uzima Chicken, easyHATCH, and Chief Chicks (which is a subsidiary of Poultry East Africa), are producing most of the chicks needed in the country.

Sikubwabo also said that next month, the firm is expected to start exporting day-old chicks to Ghana – with an initial 15,000 chicks on February 15.

“And, those countries are appreciating the quality of our chicks,” he observed.

“This year (2022), we have a plan to export 1.2 million day-old chicks, and 400,000 hatching eggs,” he said, indicating that the export market was profitable and helps the country to generate foreign revenues to balance its trade. 

Currently, he said that Uzima Chicken is producing over one million day-old chicks per month, adding that the company can increase the capacity if the demand for that is there.

Its current production comprises 500,000 chicks for SASSO (dual-purpose chickens – for both egg and meat production), 400,000 chicks for broilers, and 150,000 for layers which are supplied to both local poultry farmers and those in export countries. 

Fabrice Ndayisenga, Head of Animal Resource Research and Technology Transfer Department at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) told The New Times that some African countries which do not have required hatcheries have mostly been importing day-old chicks from Europe.

He indicated that Rwanda’s poultry sector has been registering significant growth, adding that locally produced chicks were meeting quality standards based on inspections made by RAB.

“We cut off importations [of poultry products including chicks and fertilised eggs], and now we are exporting [them],” he said, adding that the poultry export market is an opportunity for the country to earn foreign revenues.

Insufficient cargo space as a major challenge

Sikubwabo said that the main issue they were facing is the limited cargo space, mainly resulting from the fact that RwandAir has not yet acquired cargo aircraft.

“Sometimes we want to export 15,000 chicks, and we are forced to reduce that to 10,000 or 5,000 as RwandAir tells there is not enough space,” he said, adding that the demand is high.

“When RwandAir has got cargo planes, the situation will be improved for the better; we will be exporting the number of chicks and fertilised eggs we want, everything will be fine, “he said.

Meanwhile, he said there were destinations, such as Mozambique, to which RwandAir does not fly, yet the company wanted to export to, which was a hindrance to greater market diversification.

As of 2017, some companies had just started venturing into hatcheries and producing the day-old chicks, a development that the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources said came in handy.

It is in August 2016 that the Government leased, for 25 years, its Rwf2.3 billion Rubilizi National Hatchery to Flow Equity, a US firm. The firm would operate under the name of Uzima Chicken Ltd.

It was expected that the firm would have the capacity to produce 200,000 day-old chicks per month, up from 10,000 that were being produced before the Government privatised it, according to information from the agriculture ministry. But, based on the current statistics, the firm exceeded such projections by far.