Large numbers of Zimbabweans are making a living through selling domesticated quail birds. But some of them have found the business tough due to lack of new markets for live birds, their meat and eggs.
People in some parts of Mashonaland West province keep quails for personal use while others are making money through selling the birds for breeding purposes.
Some local people sell dressed quails and eggs in various markets and to households that find the meat palatable. The birds' eggs are a hit among many people who claim that they also have medicinal value. Medical practitioners could not be immediately drawn to verify these claims.
One of the quail breeders Alexio Mazambani of Alaska suburb in Chinhoyi says he has been running a booming business from the time he started this business last year.
Mazambani keeps 70 quails at his home and realizes 60 eggs a day, which he sells for $12.
Mazambani says he will get such quantity of eggs for the next two years since quails lay eggs for up to two years, depending at times on the breeding environment.
Quail breeder Kenny Mushongahande of Brundish in Chinhoyi says quail eggs are in high demand as individuals visit his home to buy them.
Mushongahande says he is not quite sure why so many people buy the same number of quail eggs per day.
One of Mushongahande's customers, Miranda Chogugudza, claims that she eats two quail eggs per day for controlling her weight.
According to Mushongahande, who acquired quail-keeping skills from a local company, M & S Company, says he started his business with 100 birds.
Mushongahande says training is critical in reducing the high death rate among the birds that start laying eggs when they are six weeks old.
Some people like quail meat and say its tastier than chicken. Karoi-based Dr. Ramson Mhiripiri says quail meat is no different from other wild birds in terms nutrition content.
But Dr. Mhiripiri says quail meat is tastier than any other wild bird because it has less fat.
As more people turn into quail business, some experts say this business is shrinking. Financial consultant, Edmore Mazarure, says the market for the quail bird business is almost flooded and some people are not realizing any profits.
Mazarure says some companies train quail breeders for a fee and those trained buy quails from them and sell eggs to the firms for incubation.
A large number of Zimbabweans are now viewing the quail business as some kind of manna from heaven in a country that is facing serious social and economic problems.
Pastor Donald Mushipe of Evangelical Church of Zimbabwe says quail birds are a God-given food just like how God sent quails to the children of Israel.
The minister of religion may be right due to the fact that a large number of people are now making a living through selling quail birds.
Canaan Musendami of Hunyani high density suburb in Chinhoyi, who is jobless, says this is his only source of income.
A government minister announced recently that Zimbabwe had temporarily suspended trading in quail birds, a move that was quashed by some senior state officials.