COMMERCIAL road runner breeders in Bulawayo, who use electricity powered incubators to produce chicks, are counting their losses since the power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), began its 10 hour per day power cuts countrywide.
People who operate chick hatcheries in the city told NewZimbabwe.com that renewed power cuts were negatively affecting their businesses.
A hatchery is a facility where eggs are hatched under artificial conditions and the process has to go on for 21 days uninterrupted.
“Last week, I had to destroy almost 20 000 eggs because of power cuts. Once the process of hatching starts, it has to go on for 21 days uninterrupted,” said Timothy Moyo, a hatchery owner in Kelvin North.
Moyo said from the 10 000 eggs he destroyed, he was expecting to get at least RTGS$5 000.
“Considering that my incubators have got 50 to 70 hatch rate, I was expecting at least 500. Some of the eggs were from my clients. Now I have to look for money to pay them back,” he lamented.
Another chick breeder, Gladys Chipepera said she has now resorted to using solar powered incubator machines.
“The electricity cuts have really affected my business. I have got heavy duty incubators which use a lot of electricity. I am now using solar incubators which have got limited capacity.
“I had orders from two non-governmental organisations which are empowering women with chicken projects in Chiredzi and Binga,” she said.
Hellen Martin, another chick breeder operating in Burnside, told a similar story, saying power cuts have reminded those in the business that alternative sources of power were important.
“It is virtually impossible these days to venture into chick breeding without an alternative source of power.
“I have now invested in generators but this will definitely have serious implications on the prices of the chicks,” said Martin.
Zimbabwe has implemented 10-hour a day power cut schedules countrywide to avert the risk of running out of electricity within four months.
ZESA says the water levels at the Kariba Dam, which has been supplying the country with an average of 542 Megawatts through the hydropower station, have dwindled.