A poultry farm in Durban is spreading its wings and creating employment. Previously retrenched poultry workers started the new agricultural co-operative last year.

Isukile Agricultural Co-operative is the brain-child of 129 employees who pulled together after losing their jobs.

The chicken farm started off with a few chicks but grew into a fully-fledged business.

With a capacity to house 34 000 chickens and in their first cycle the business has generated over R230 000.

One employee, Nonhle Ndunge, says the project has not only been a lifeline but has taught them vital business skills.

“We have 7 500 chickens and we want to grow our capacity so that we can sell our chickens to a bigger audience and export them. We have approached Nando’s but they eat in bulk and we are still working on a small scale, but hopefully, we will grow our capacity.”

The success of this co-op farm has seen the eThekwini municipality come on board. The project has also received land with a suitable farm and additional support.

“So far, we have invested about R18 million, including the R4 million we allocated in buying the farm. We are working together in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development which is also assisting. We are also responding to the call of food security and ensuring the export and import markets are thriving. We don’t want to be the dumping site for countries. We want to become a productive nation that can feed itself,” says Mayor of eThekwini, Mxolisi Kaunda.

The intention is that they reinvest into the farm to fix additional infrastructure and increase space for more birds.

“We are thinking of expanding the farm to be able to sell the chicken eggs”, says on e of the employees, Muduza Maphulo.

“We don’t have enough ventilation. We have to use normal light but it was doable. We loaded 7 500 chickens just to test and see if it goes well and it went very well because the people that are here are more than willing to work,” adds another worker, Thando Magane.

There is also a bigger plan for the Cato Ridge farm which will see the site upgraded into an Agri-Park Incubator and eventually create additional jobs.