Big mis­sion

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“Hatch­ing chicks is an im­por­tant link in poul­try in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment for any coun­try. With­out progress in egg hatch­ing, it is im­pos­si­ble for a coun­try to de­velop the poul­try in­dus­try in a healthy way,” said Zhao. He de­cided to demon­strate to lo­cal farm­ers and tech­ni­cians the tech­nol­ogy of ar­ti­fi­cially hatch­ing chicks, start­ing with Evariste’s Safe Chicken Farm.

Zhao first an­a­lyzed the prob­lems Evariste en­coun­tered while hav­ing his chicks hatched, and the first thing he did was to re­design his hatch­ery room con­fig­u­ra­tion.

“Ow­ing to the high tem­per­a­ture in his hatch­ery, it was dif­fi­cult to con­trol the hu­mid­ity be­cause of fast evap­o­ra­tion. In ad­di­tion, poor ven­ti­la­tion also af­fected the hatch­ing process,” said Zhao. He and his col­leagues put wa­ter-proof film and straw on the hatch­ery roof and ren­o­vated the win­dows so as to im­prove ven­ti­la­tion.

“Af­ter the in­no­va­tion, we can now con­trol the tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity while hatch­ing chicks,” said Zhao.

Other ar­eas that needed at­ten­tion were the poor main­te­nance of ex­ist­ing equip­ment in the hatch­ery rooms and lack of spare parts. With help from the Chi­nese Em­bassy in Bu­rundi and Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Af­fairs of China, Zhao bought the parts from China and fixed the equip­ment.

Then, he had to solve the last prob­lem: get­ting high-qual­ity eggs. Zhao con­tacted a breeder farm in Kenya and ob­tained the im­port per­mit.

Dur­ing the hatch­ing process, Zhao mon­i­tored the tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity of the hatch­ery, ad­just­ing it ev­ery few hours.

“Many lo­cal tech­ni­cians had lit­tle knowl­edge about egg hatch­ing and I showed them ev­ery step dur­ing the process,” said Zhao.

Af­ter 21 days of care­ful ob­ser­va­tion, chicks be­gan to hatch. The ef­fort of Zhao and his lo­cal col­leagues was re­warded by a to­tal of 1,672 chicks hatched from 1,785 fer­til­ized eggs, with a suc­cess rate of 93.6 per­cent.

An appreciative Evariste wrote to the Bu­run­dian Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, Agri­cul­ture and Live­stock and Chi­nese Em­bassy in Bu­rundi, ex­press­ing his grat­i­tude to Zhao and the other Chi­nese agri­cul­tural ex­perts, adding that he was now con­fi­dent of ex­pand­ing his busi­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to Dieudonne Nsen­giyumva, an of­fi­cial of the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, Agri­cul­ture and Live­stock of Bu­rundi, it was the first time that egg ar­ti­fi­cial hatch­ing suc­ceeded in Bu­rundi. He hoped that the Chi­nese ex­perts could travel to other prov­inces to give sim­i­lar skills trans­fer­ence so that it could help im­prove the an­i­mal hus­bandry in­dus­try of the whole coun­try.

The team’s ac­com­plish­ments were also ac­knowl­edged by Li Changlin, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to Bu­rundi, who also vis­ited Safe Chicken Farm to see the re­sults first­hand.

Zhao be­gan his big mis­sion of pro­mot­ing the tech­nol­ogy of ar­ti­fi­cially hatch­ing chicks through­out Bu­rundi by giv­ing train­ing ses­sions on the tech­nolo­gies and mak­ing plans to es­tab­lish breeder farms of par­ent chick­ens to cut the cost of im­port­ing eggs for this pur­pose.

“Lo­cally pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity hatch­ing eggs is the fun­da­men­tal way to im­prove the poul­try in­dus­try in Bu­rundi,” said Zhao, adding how­ever that this would need to be done step by step.

As high-stan­dard breeder farms need huge in­vest­ment, Zhao thinks he should first ex­pand the scale of ar­ti­fi­cial chick hatch­ing so that farm­ers can ac­cu­mu­late more prof­its. They can then in­vest in build­ing breeder farms. In ad­di­tion, the links in the lo­cal poul­try breed­ing in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment, such as feed man­age­ment and dis­ease pre­ven­tion and con­trol, are not in line with the re­quire­ments of modern poul­try de­vel­op­ment. It is thus nec­es­sary to train lo­cal tech­ni­cians and farm­ers ad­vanced poul­try breed­ing tech­nolo­gies. Dr. Nyok­wishimira Al­fred, an of­fi­cial from Bu­run­dian Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, Agri­cul­ture and Live­stock, agrees with Zhao, not­ing that his min­istry would like to work with Chi­nese ex­perts to es­tab­lish modern an­i­mal breed­ing and dis­ease pre­ven­tion and con­trol sys­tems.

Zhao is op­ti­mistic about the way for­ward. “I will start from ar­ti­fi­cially hatch­ing more chicks so as to ben­e­fit lo­cal farm­ers. Then, we can grad­u­ally im­prove Bu­rundi’s an­i­mal hus­bandry in­dus­try with sup­port from the Bu­run­dian Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, Agri­cul­ture and Live­stock,” he said.

Af­ter 21 days of care­ful ob­ser­va­tion, chicks be­gan to hatch. The ef­fort of Zhao and his lo­cal col­leagues was re­warded by a to­tal of 1,672 chicks hatched from 1,785 fer­til­ized eggs, with a suc­cess rate of 93.6 per­cent.

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Zhao Ke (cen­ter) demon­strates how to raise chicks

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