YAP Proposal #306: Hybrid solar poultry incubator (Percival Mwela, Zambia)

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My name is Percival Ganizani Mwela. I am a 32-year-old Zambian by nationality and I reside in Lusaka, Zambia.

My research on poultry incubators started in 1999 when I made my first incubator for my Grade 12 final year project. This incubator used electricity and was small. It had a 9-egg capacity and the project was a success.

Ten years later while studying Agriculture Animal Science at the Natural Resources Development College (NRDC), I made a second incubator for my final year project. It was made from recycled materials (two old office filing cabinets) and it had a capacity of 1000 chicken eggs. The project was a success and I graduated in 2010 as the Best Practical Student in Agriculture Animal Science.

After graduation my former College (NRDC) requested me to exhibit my innovation at the 2010 August Agriculture and Commercial Show in Lusaka, Zambia, and the project drew a lot of attention. ANAFE, in collaboration with PANAC, invited me to exhibit at the November 2010 Pan-African Agriculture Consortium (PANAC) Innovation fair held in Nairobi, Kenya.

From December 2010 to mid-2011 the incubators where made from wood (MDF, ply wood and EGP), but this proved to be a challenge as the wood would warp due to the humidity inside the incubator. Flat aluminum sheets and square iron tubes replaced the wood to make the structure and this has proved to be the best material as it is durable, strong and easy to work with.

Additionally, the incubators are easier to clean and maintain and there is less waste of material during manufacturing. To date these are the materials that I use to manufacture the incubators. I have also fabricated and recycled a lot of fridges, both upright and deep freezers, into incubators.

PercivalMwelaDue to lack of capital to expand this innovation I was forced to start work on another job. Unfortunately the job took me 800 km north from the capital Lusaka and my innovation suffered for one year as I could not easily source materials and components to manufacture the incubators.

In late 2012 I found work in Lusaka and in early 2013 serious production started. I registered the business in May 2013 under the name Ganizani Technology.

My clientele has mostly been farmers that are producing village chickens (local/ indigenous chickens), quails, ducks and one that set up a hatchery to hatch Broiler Day Old Chicks (DOC). One of the benefits of using poultry incubators is that they increase productivity and it can help prevent the extinction of our indigenous breeds of poultry.

When village chickens are left in a natural environment they will normally have about 2-3 clutches in a year with an average of 14 eggs per clutch, giving a total of 35 eggs a year. With hatchability of about 65%, this results in only 23 live chicks/year.

When poultry incubators are introduced and integrated into the production system the number of clutches increase to 8-9/ hen giving an average of 14 eggs/clutch, a total of 119 eggs/year. With hatchability of about 85% this results in about 101 live chicks.

The efficiency of poultry incubators is unquestionable for all types of poultry, especially poultry that have very poor broody characteristics like quails. Most of the farmers and farmers groups that have bought my incubators have immensely benefited from increased productivity of their flocks.

For the one that set up a hatchery, he has benefited the community by creating employment and because this hatchery is in a remote place the farmers are enjoying getting a constant supply of Broiler DOC’s that are stress free, unlike in the past where the birds where sourced 940 km away in Lusaka.

The main motivation for my consistent and persistent involvement in the poultry industry is that my upbringing was around poultry farming, especially village chickens. Growing up I always wanted to help my parents increase their flock size, so making poultry incubators was one of the solutions that I came up with.

Poultry has become part of my life as I am working as a farm manger for a company that’s keep 510,000 broilers (per cycle) and I am also the National Broiler Chairperson for the Poultry Association of Zambia (PAZ). For me the main gain is to see a substantial increase in production of non-traditional poultry like village chickens, ducks, turkey, ostrich and quails.

A lot of investment and emphasis has been placed on broilers and commercial layers in my country to the detriment of other poultry farming ventures. Over 70 million broilers and about 15 million layers were produced in the 2014-2015 farming season but no data was recorded for non-traditional poultry as there is no commercial hatchery or breeding farm for village chickens, ducks, quails or ostriches.

If more investment is put in it will create a lot of jobs and livelihoods for those that will be involved.

With the current power deficit that most African countries are facing, Zambia included, it has become imperative to produce poultry incubators that are very energy efficient and use alternative power sources like solar energy. This power deficit has negatively affected business in terms of sales. There has been a sharp drop in sales for the last 18months as people are not buying incubators due to the eight hours of load shading a day.

I have solar incubators that I have developed but still need more work to perfect the prototype. Additionally, hybrid prototypes are being worked on that will use both electricity and solar.  The US $5000 will mostly be used to improve the current solar and hybrid prototypes that are being developed.

Most of the rural farmers will benefit from this innovation as most of them are not connected to the national power grid. According to government statistics, less than 40% of the country is connected to the national power grid.

Locally manufactured incubators are preferred to imported machines due to lack of spare parts. Additionally, the durability and reliability of imported incubators is less than the ones I produce. In the last year I have fixed and modified a lot of Chinese-made incubators. The sizes of incubators that I have produced vary in capacity, the smallest being 30 eggs, the largest more than 5000 eggs.

The funds will be used to procure solar panels, regulators, batteries and inverters for one prototype and for the other one a solar geyser will be used to provide the heating. These prototypes will be in production roughly 5-6 months after further testing and I hope to produce and sell 250 units within the first year.

 

Blogpost and picture submitted by Percival Mwela (Lusaka, Zambia) – percivalmwela[at]gmail.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #306 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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29 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #306: Hybrid solar poultry incubator (Percival Mwela, Zambia)

    1. Hi happy you like the project. The technology is simply, low maintenance, durable and very efficient.

    1. Thanks very much your support means to lot to me. Support and networking are the order of the day and is what will me this project a success so that the masses benefit from this technological innovation.

    1. Thanks very much. Any technological innovation is only beneficial if only it’s practically useful. This innovation does just that. Technology needs to evolve to remain relevant and this project idea of hybrid incubator address the current power deficits most of Africa is facing.

    1. Thanks very much. Feedback both positive and negative are what builds and helps improve innovations. Thanks and these feedbacks is what we keep these idea burning for a long time to come.

  1. This is the technology needed in Zambia to reduce poverty levels. It is well thought out and has a potential to be shared with other youths. Well done Gigi

  2. This is the technology needed to reduce the poverty levels in Zambia. It can be used to empower other youths particularly women. This is the way forward!

    1. Yes this project will empower alot of youths and women, (women groups) and the general farming community. It will not only improve productivity but I has potential to diversify poultry farming and create employment within communities.

    2. Alot of youths and women group’s and individual will benefit from this project. Thanks very much for your comments.

  3. A big necessity for a country like Zambia that is currently suffering power outages due to poor rainfall.

    1. That is very true electric type are not effective enough due to the 8 hours of load shading a day.

  4. oh my goodness such inovation and skill.i m proud to know that our youths have such great minds.i support this project 100% because this is production that make the country develope and brings forex into our beloved zambia.well done keep it up

    1. Yes this technological innovation will be affordable and very practical to the needs of farmers. Additional it will be very durable and efficient.

  5. I believe this is a great innovation. And I support it.
    I love the fact that a zambian is doing this, not a lebanese or chinese.
    We need to support this, I rear village chickens myself as well as Guinea fowls’ and this has motivated me.
    Keep pushing sir. You have my support.

  6. Brilliant inovation God bless the hard works of your hands.we are ready to support you as small scale farmers.

    1. Thanks very much for your assured support. You the small scale farmers are the motivation for this project.

  7. Thanks very much to everyone who liked and commented on this project. You have all reinvigorated my resolve to continue pursuing this project with even more energy. Thanks to YAP project for the platform you have created for me and many other youths that have submitted their brilliant ideas.

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