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The Danish Human Resource Base in Agricultural Research for Development:
Its Capacity and Limitations in relation to Interventions that Aim to Respond to Gender and Poverty Alleviation Objectives

Anne Marie Sørensen

Coordinator of Network for Agricultural Research for
Development (NETARD)1 The Royal Danish Veterinary and Agricultural University
Bülowsvej 17,1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark


This article establishes the background for creating the Danish Network for Agricultural Research for Development (NETARD). Strengths and weaknesses in the human resource base are listed and analysed in relation to the demands and complex issues faced in Danish agricultural sector support to developing countries, including gender and poverty. Examples of positive trends and programmes are given. Weaknesses include insufficient gender skills, lack of conceptual clarity and dwindling of the human resource capacity within gender and development. The gender-oriented research approach and its importance to issues of agricultural productivity and poverty are illustrated by an example from a study on tea growing in Kenya. Finally, recommendations on how to strengthen the Danish resource base within gender and poverty are given. These include cross-disciplinary research, interaction and dialogue between “gender experts” among researchers and development practitioners and inclusion of gender studies in the curriculum of key institutions.

Key words: Networking, agricultural research, Danish human resource base, agricultural sector, gender, interdisciplinary research, gender and agricultural production

1. This paper contains the view of the Co-ordinator, which does not necessarily correspond to the views of the Board of NETARD or Danida.


The Network for Agricultural Research for Development (NETARD) was established in May 1998 with the major aim of contributing to developing the catalytic role of Danish agricultural research in relation to Danish development co-operation. The network is funded by the Danish Research Council for Development for a period of three years ending mid 2001.

NETARD has a double structure consisting of an institutional network of 11 core institutions and an open network of approximately 100 individuals, who are involved or interested in activities within the field of agricultural research for development (ARD). The list of core institutions, which encompasses universities, sector research institutions and projects, is shown in annex A. The open network consists of researchers, staff from Danida, technical advisers and individuals from Danish NGOs and consultancy companies. NETARD has a board of 4 persons elected from the core institutions of the network. A full-time co-ordinator, who refers to the Board, takes care of the daily running of the activities of the network, including administrative tasks, information management and preparation of meetings and seminars on research topics of relevance to Danish development cooperation, and to Danish Agricultural Sector programme Support (ASPS) in particular.

An analysis of the Danish human resource base vis-à-vis the research needs and priorities of ASPS was presented in the progress report “Statusrapport for Netværk for Jordbrugsrelateret Ulandsforskning” of October 1998.2 Many of the findings of this report are also important in analysing the human resource base from the perspectives of poverty alleviation and gender. This is due to the fact that the ASPS concept has been developed within the framework of the overall Strategy for Danish Development Assistance Towards Year 2000 (Danida, 1994) (referred to hereafter as the Strategy). In the Strategy poverty alleviation is a major goal and gender is stated as a crosscutting issue in Danish development co-operation.

2. The progress report is only available in Danish, but includes two pages long summary in English. The report is available on the Internet on NETARD's homepage on the following address: www.

In this paper I shall try to analyse the Danish human resource base within the area of ARD from the perspective of its gender responsiveness and its capacity to respond to the objective of poverty alleviation. Following the introduction (this section), I shall in section 2 briefly characterise the Danish human resource base in ARD. Focus in section 3 will be on highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the human resource base in relation to meeting the needs, priorities and objectives of Danish development assistance, and of the bilateral sector programme support (SPS) in particular. The resource base will be analysed from the point of view of gender and, although to a less extent, poverty alleviation. Some of the research initiatives that focus on topics that are relevant to improving the situation of the poor, including women, will be commented on. An assessment of the present capacity and limitations of the resource base within the area of gender-oriented research will also be made. The importance of focusing on gender relations in explaining key problems of low agricultural productivity will be illustrated by an example from the author's own research in Kenya. Finally, the conclusions and recommendations of the paper are presented in section 4.

Profile of the Danish human resource base within agricultural research for development

The core institutions of NETARD all give priority to development-oriented agricultural research in their various policy documents and research strategies, and many researchers are interested in directing their research more towards the needs in Danish development co-operation.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that Agriculture and natural resource management, as an overall research area, is extremely important when it comes to improving the living conditions of the poor, and of women in particular, through development programme support. Low agricultural productivity, under-utilised resources in the agricultural sector, inadequate food supplies, inequality in access to economically important resources such as land and income, poor infrastructure and droughts are just some of the constraints faced by smallholders, and women in particular, in many developing countries. Women play a key role in agriculture in the developing world, and account for about 70 to 80 percent of household food production in Africa south of Sahara. In Asia and Latin America the figures are 65 and 45 percent accordingly.

A quick assessment of the Danish human resource base within ARD shows that it has a large capacity and great expertise within many technical fields that are important to solving some of the problems faced in the agricultural sector. There-fore a number of institutions also already have an extensive collaboration with Danida (Danish International Development Assistance) and Danced (Danish Co-operation for Environment and Development) within education, research and consultancy work, e.g. Copenhagen University, Roskilde University, The Royal Vet-erinary and Agricultural University (KVL) and the Danish Institute of Agricultural Science (DIAS).

Three of the institutions, which participate in NETARD, are specialised en development research and education and training oriented towards developing countries. They are: Centre for Development Research (CDR), Danida Forest Seed Centre (DFSC) and The Danish Government Institute of Seed Pathology for Developing Countries. Whereas the latter two operates in clearly defined technical areas, CDR's research is broader. CDR is the largest of the three, and the researchers attached to this institution are drawn from many different fields and disciplines, although mainly from within social science. CDR has until recently, as the only institution in the network, given priority to gender and social inequality as one of 4 main research areas. Agriculture constitutes another main research areas of the CDR.

The resource base is especially strong within the following 5 areas: livestock development, seed and crop production, natural resource management, human nutrition and integrated pest management (IPM). These areas are all important in Danish programme assistance.

In general a lot of the research on specific topics within ARD is, however, rather technical and narrow in design and orientation. With the exception of a few recent research programmes, there is no strong tradition for cross-disciplinary research, and especially not for research collaboration between natural and social scientists. In general there are few economists, political scientists and anthropologists in the network.

As a positive trend some of the natural science-oriented institutions have recently employed social scientists to strengthen their capacity within areas such as planning, co-ordination and institutional development. The recent initiative of Danida's Forest Seed Centre to employ a staff member and researcher with a background in institutional development here deserves special attention. With this initiative research and education within tree improvement and conservation of forest genetic resources is likely to become strengthened and widened to include new aspects, e.g. on the role of local institutions and ownership in natural resource management.

Whereas the universities are more involved in basic research than government (sector) research institutions, which tend to focus more on strategic and applied research, the boundaries between the institutions as to their involvement in different types of research are increasingly becoming less distinct with greater interaction.

The Danish human resource base vis-à-vis Danish development co-operation

The demands of the strategy and ASPS

The strategy of Danish development co-operation emphasises the need for an increased collaboration and interaction with the Danish resource base, including research institutions. Collaboration with Danish research institutions is seen as a tool in the process of making a well qualified, broad and poverty-oriented development co-operation possible. As mentioned in the introduction of this paper poverty alleviation and gender considerations are key elements in the Strategy. The concepts and strategy on WID and gender are further elaborated in Danida's WID Policy Towards the Year 2000 Women in Development (Danida 1993).

Consequently, whether or not the Danish resource base is able to fulfil the role given to it in the Strategy to a large extent depends upon its relevance and capacity in relation to interventions that aim to respond to gender and poverty alleviation objectives.

The problems faced in ASPS are complex and interrelated, and meeting the research needs and solving the problems often require a cross-disciplinary approach. The problems met also often have an institutional dimension, e.g. institutional aspects of rural extension and rural

finance. Other needs and “gaps” where more and new knowledge is necessary are: monitoring and the crosscutting issues of gender and environment. These are areas where assistance from researchers, e.g. in terms of studies, methods and conceptual development, is particularly wanted and needed. There are also research needs of a more technical nature, e.g. within the areas of specific crops and seed production, but such needs seem to be easier to cover, and the research capacity within these areas is increasingly becoming available in the collaborating countries.

As earlier mentioned many research projects are designed in a rather technical and narrow way resulting in this research not always being relevant to the issues, problems and concerns in a sector-oriented programme assistance, which require a broad perspective, new methods and contributions from “new” disciplines such as economics, anthropology and gender studies.

Finally, poverty problems and gender issues are characterised by cutting across sectors and disciplines, which put extra high demands on the research in terms of broadness and rethinking of methods and concepts. The Danish resource base within ARD does neither have a lot of experience, nor a strong tradition for this type of research. It is believed that with the creation of NETARD the ground has been laid for developing the existing potentials in the Danish resource base with regard to cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional research.

The human resource base in relation to interventions that aim to respond to gender and poverty alleviation objectives: Potentials and limitations

There are also positive trends in the current agricultural research for development conducted by researchers from Danish institutions. The newly established poultry initiative, for example, represents a positive shift from ignoring resources and research topics that are relevant to women and the poor to including such issues in development-oriented livestock research. Most of the researchers involved in this initiative also participate in NETARD.

Another example is the Danida supported ENRECA programme aiming at capacity building in the developing countries own research institutions. This programme includes a number of relevant research projects within the agricultural sector on topics such as human nutrition, food security, fodder production, livestock management among smallholders etc.

The multi-disciplinary research programmes “Sustainable Agriculture in Semi-Arid Africa” (SASA) and Sahel-Sudan Environmental Research Initiative (SEREIN), which involve collaborative research activities across institutions, are other examples of a projects, which focus on analysing complex problems similar to those faced in the ASPS, e.g. natural resource management, institutional development, and gender and poverty issues.

Finally, with regard to education and training there are a number of interesting examples of cross-institutional collaboration in offering courses on land use in developing countries and other development-oriented topics. There are also plans underway at KVL to develop an introductory gender course. However, the issue of funding such a course still remains to be solved.

At this point it is, nevertheless, important also to highlight some of the limitations of the human resource base, especially in relation to interventions that aim to respond to gender objectives.

There is a need to distinguish between research, which focuses on topics that are relevant to women, and gender-oriented research. The resource base is generally weak when it comes to gender-oriented research, i.e. research which is based on a thorough collection of gender disaggregated data and using gender analysis as a tool in the analysis of the topic. This is mainly explained by the fact that few researchers have received any gender training during their education, but it is also due to gender not being an attractive field or topic in terms of career opportunities and academic status.

Among the consultancy companies an in Danida there are a number of people, who have experience with applying gender analytical tools in their work with concrete development programmes. This does, however, not make it up for genuine gender-oriented research.

As a result of lacking gender analysis skills many researchers in ARD either overlook women when they design their research projects, or they do not understand the difference between focusing on gender relations (including relations between women and men) and studying women only. In line with many development workers they tend to believe that by focusing on women and women's programmes you automatically address inequality. Needless to say that neither ignoring women, nor focusing on women alone is sufficient to analyse and solve prevailing inequalities based on gender and socio-economic differentiation.

Against this background the recent decision of CDR to give up Gender and social inequality as an independent research area and mainstream it in the other research areas gives reason to serious concern. This decision means that the only independent Danish research environment within gender and development is closed down at a time where the need for gender-oriented skills, guidelines, research and information in development programmes is bigger than ever!

Unless something is done to maintain the human capacity and expertise in the field of gender and development, there is a danger that it will dwindle away.

The situation is worsened by the facts that the gender unit, in Danida, SQ, is understaffed, and the gender advisers of major NGOs, namely KULU and Danish Volunteer Service (DVS) have failed to have their contracts extended beyond this year.

By contrast, building up the human and institutional capacity in gender issues, seems to be given a high priority in some of the collaborating developing countries. In Uganda, for example, the Danida supported agricultural sector programme in the Ministry of Agriculture has employed a Ugandan gender and poverty adviser.

An example of gender-oriented research: Gender and contract farming among tea growing smallholders in Kenya

The following example from my own and Dorthe von Bülow's research among teagrowing smallholders in Kenya in the 80ies serves to explain what gender-oriented research is and illustrate how a gender-oriented research approach may lead to different explanations of low productivity and different conclusions from those of gender-blind studies (Bülow and Sørensen, 1988 and 1993). Previous studies on tea schemes for smallholders had with a few exceptions generally neglected issues of socio-economic differentiation and labour and gender issues at the household level. Even today the general literature on contract farming still shows a heavy bias towards system-and technically-oriented studies.

In contrast to other production systems such as plantations and state farms, it is characteristic of smallholder outgrower schemes that their operation is based on the farmers' control over land and labour. It is therefore all the more astonishing to note that most studies on contract farming have focused only on the contracting firm or organisation, almost totally neglecting the other partner of the contract, the growers.

Outgrower schemes for smallholders aim at developing export crops such as tea, sugar, coffee and tobacco for national and international consumption. Compared with other outgrower schemes for smallholders, tea schemes in Kenya are generally looked upon as a success story in terms of increasing the incomes of smallholders and leading to intensification of the agricultural production. However, this production system exhibits problems of productivity at the level of the smallholders, which had not been dealt with satisfactorily prior to our research.

Our survey in Kericho District confirmed the huge variations in productivity found by other researchers (Buch-Hansen 1980), but also showed that these differences could not only or easily be attributed to such factors as ineffective extension service, poor infrastructure, and non-availability of fertiliser and other inputs. Intrahousehold gender relations turned out to be a much more significant explanatory factor.

By analysing the prevailing gender relations at household level it was found that the gender structure may cause serious constraints in tea production by virtue of affecting the key element of contract farming, i.e. the farmer's control over labour. During the last decades, labour has become a constraint to increased agricultural production in Kericho. While tea is a particularly labour-intensive crop, labour is a critical factor and tea production particularly vulnerable to changes in the labour force.

Our findings from research in Kericho showed that tensions in gender relations affect tea production negatively and lead to low productivity and neglected tea fields. Tensions arise, in particular, as a result of conflicts concerning control over the proceeds of tea sales. In pure cash crop production, the head of the household controls the labour of the household members only to the extent that they also benefit from the production. Intra-household struggles thus represent individual women's resistance against men's exploitation of women's labour within the contract farming system. In other parts of Kenya and in Tanzania such struggles have at times developed into more collective forms of resistance (Mbilinyi, 1988).

With regard to poverty aspects and socio-economic differentiation our research from Kericho added a gender dimension to the discussion of socio-economic differentiation.

In the majority of the poorer tea-growing households, which could not afford to use hired labour, women's labour burden in tea had a negative effect on their other activities, including food crop production. These households often had to buy maize to supplement their own production and the husband controlled most household income and expenditure. In general women had little say in decision-making.

By contrast, wives of better-off tea growers, a relatively small group, had more time for their own income-generating activities, than those in poorer households. Most of the work in tea and maize production was done by hired labourers leaving women to engage themselves more in their own income generating activities, including women's group projects (Anne Sørensen, 1992). To these women involvement in tea production therefore had resulted in an improvement not only in living standards, but also in their decision-making power vis-à-vis their husbands. While husbands controlled the major sources of household income such as tea, dairy cattle and off-farm employment, women in this group seemed to have regained their former control over food production, including the sale of maize.

Concluding remarks and recommendations

It would not be fair to conclude that the research which is being carried out among Danish researchers within ARD is irrelevant in relation to interventions that aim to respond to gender and poverty alleviation objectives. As I have shown in the previous sections of this paper the research area as such as well as many of the topics on which research is carried out, are highly relevant. Nevertheless, it is a fact that the Danish resource base is relatively weak, when it comes to gender-oriented research.

Whether the research carried out within the area of agriculture and development will be advantageous or disadvantageous to women in terms of reducing inequalities and creating opportunities for women may be impossible to tell if gender aspects are not included in the research process through collection of gender disaggregated data and gender analysis. Even then, it also depends on a number of other factors such as the political climate in the country where the research is carried out and the national context in general.

Suggestions on activities and methods to strengthen the capacity of the Danish human resource base to carry out research in relation to interventions that aim to respond to gender and poverty alleviation objectives include the following:


Buch-Hansen, Mogens (ed.) (1980). Agro-Industrial Production and Socio-Economic Development: A Case Study of KTDA Smallholder Tea-Production in Buret, Western Kenya, Working Paper no: 11, Roskilde: Roskilde University Centre.

Bülow, D. and Sørensen, A. (eds.) (1988). Gender Dynamics in Contract Farming: Women's Role in Smallholder Tea Production in Kericho District, Keny, CDR Project Paper no: 88.1 (Centre for Development Research, Copenhagen, 1988).

Bülow, D. and Sørensen, A. (1993). “Gender and Contract Farming: Tea Outgrower Schemes in Kenya”, in Review of African Political Economy, ROAPE Publication No. 56. UK.

Mbilinyi, M. (1988). “Agribusiness and Women Peasants in Tanzania”-, in Development and Change 19,4.

NETARD/Sørensen, A. (1998). Statusrapport for Netvœrk for Jordbrugsrelateret Ulandsforskning, Copenhagen, October 1998.

Sørensen, A. (1992). “Women's Organisations Among the Kipsigis: Change, variety and differential participation”, in Africa, Vol. 62, No. 4.

Udenrigsministeriet/Danida (1994). En Verden i Udvikling. Strategi for danskudviklingspolitik frem mod år 2000, UM/Danida.

Udenrigsministeriet/Danida (1993). Women in Development. Danida's WID Policy Towards the Year 2000, UM/Danida.

Annex A

The Danish Network For Agricultural Research For Development:

List Of Participating Institutions

Network for Agricultural Research for Development
The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University
Bülowsvej 17, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C

Contact: Anne Sørensen, Coordinator

Tel: +45 35 28 27 05
Fax: +45 35 28 21 89

Poultry as a Tool in Poverty Eradication and Promotion of gender Equality

Dr. Kazi Abdul Fattah

Director General
Department of Livestock Services
Farm Gate, 1215 Dhaka, Bangladesh


Due to poverty, a high population density and many landless people a special effort is required to reach the poor and landless, especially the women. The paper describes the evolution in GOB's work that has led to the development of the Bangladesh Poultry Development Model, which has been found to be very effective in reaching and involving poor women in economic development.

Key words: Poultry, poverty alleviation, gender, economic development.


The People's Republic of Bangladesh is a small and densely populated country located in South Asia bordering India and Myanmar on three sides and the Bay of Bengal on the fourth's side. According to the world Population Profile 1994 (U.S. Census Bureau) except for some city-states, Bangladesh has more people per Sq. Km. of land than any other country. More than 125 million people are living in 1,48,393 Sq. km. The population growth rate is 2.17% and literacy is around 51%.

Bangladesh is mainly a land of agriculture and about eighty percent of its people live in villages. Average cultivable land per person is only 0.25 acre, but it is not evenly distributed. According to the Human Development report of UNDP 10% of the landowners possess 49% of the agricultural land, while the 10% with the least own only 2%. The favoured 20% of the population enjoy 49% of the national income and the share of the bottom 20% is only 7.5%. According to this report 47.5% of the people of Bangladesh still live below the poverty line and they receive less than 1900 calories per person per day as against the standard of 2300 calories. Referring to the human development Index (UNDP, 1996), which is a composite measure of life expectancy at birth, adult literacy and command over resources needed for satisfactory living, the situation of Bangladesh compared to other countries of the region, is as follow:

CountryHD Index
Sri Lanka0.698

The profile of human deprivation (UNDP, 1996) indicated that in 1993, the percentage of people in the country for whom basic human needs are not met is 76%. They are in a state of economic, social and psychological deprivation having insufficient ownership, control or access to resources as required for an acceptable living standard.

Human Development refers to development of all men, women and children. About 80% of the population of the country live in villages and poverty is higher in rural than in urban areas. Fifty percent of the population are women and poverty is higher among women than among men. Women are comparatively less educated and skilled. According to a report by FAO, 15% of all households in Bangladesh are headed by women who are either widows, divorced or having a disabled husband and according to the same report, 96% of the members of these households are below the poverty line and 33% of them belong to the hard core poor who experience chronic food shortage due to their inability to participate in any income earning activities as women's access to employment in Bangladesh is limited. Poverty has forced many of them out of their homes in search of employment even though the female wage rate is 25-30% lower than the male wage rate.

The effect of poverty falls most severely on women and girls as they get less food, their calorie intake being 29% lower than men's and boys'. About 93% children under 5 years and 77% of pregnant mothers of this class suffer from protein deficiency and malnutrition, 30–35% newborn babies are below normal weight. Malnutrition affects physical and mental growth, learning capacities and activities of people.

Causes of poverty

The major causes of poverty may be summarized as:

  1. Low economic growth

  2. Inequitable distribution of income

  3. Unequal distribution of productive assets.

  4. Unemployment and under employment

  5. High rate of population growth

  6. Low level of human resources development

  7. Natural disasters:

    1. Cyclone
    2. Flood
    3. River erosion
    4. Draught
    5. Crop failure for many other reasons

  8. Limited access to public services and utilities etc.

Poultry rearing in Bangladesh

In a condition where many people are landless, under privileged, having no land for crop cultivation, education or formal skills to participate in income earning activities, poultry play a very important role for income generation and poverty alleviation for this class particularly for the distressed women as described above.

According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) 19.6% of the people have no cultivable land, but homestead only. Poultry rearing play a very vital role for income generation of this group, as this requires minimum land, short capital and not very high skills.

Poultry (Chickens and Ducks) rearing at household level in Bangladesh is a traditional method. It is an integral part of agro-business of the village community. About 89% of the rural households rear poultry and the average no of birds per household are 6.8% (BBS). The number of poultry in the country according to BBS is:

Table 1. Number of chicken and ducks in Bangladesh

Fowl (million)127.50130.20138.20
Duck (million)12.6512.7013.00

These birds scavenge in and around the farmers' homesteads and meet a major part of their feed requirements in this way and require little additional food. Of course, their production level is low as the breed quality is poor, but still this system supplies about 80% of the total production of eggs and chicken meat of the country.

Bangladesh is a land of rivers, canals and ponds with water almost the whole year and people rear ducks there. Ducks swim in the water, collect snails and aquatic weeds from the water areas and require little or no additional food from the owner to fetch a profit for the owner. The importance of poultry as a source of income for the landless and the marginal farmers, especially the women has now been more widely recognized.

Poultry in poverty alleviation

Up to the middle of the nineteen eighties, the activities of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh (GOB) in this sector remained confined to the big farmers and they were limited to preventive care, i.e. mostly vaccination of poultry against Newcastle disease. Considering the condition of the landless, especially of the distressed women and their socio-economic condition, the Government subsequently changed its thoughts and activities to with the aim to change the lot of these poor groups by involving them in livestock and poultry rearing.

The smallholder livestock development program involving this group of people began in Bangladesh in 1984–85. Under the program, initially poultry (chicken and ducks) and subsequently to a limited scale, goat and beef fattening activities were taken up. The World Food Program (WFP) played a very vital role in this program by providing assistance in the form of food aid, training and other logistic supports. A hard-core poverty stricken area map has been developed by this organization to provide assistance to the vulnerable groups. The program initially launched was a vulnerable group feeding one (VGF). Under this program a distressed family was provided with 31 kg wheat per month, which continued for a period of 2 years. By the end of the second year the program is shifted to another area. After this program was evaluated by WFP it was found that following the withdrawal of assistance, the groups became again vulnerable and it had no sustainable effect.

At this stage some 8–10 trades like kitchen gardening, beating rice, making pop rice, embroidered quilt, poultry farming etc. were experimentally tried with different groups of people to see whether any sustainable program could be identified. By the end of the trial, it was found that poultry farming was the most suitable trade for these vulnerable groups. The Department of Livestock Services (DLS) in collaboration with a national NGO (BRAC) in a district named Manikganj conducted the trial with the assistance of WFP (see also Saleque in these proceedings).

Besides the landless farmers and distressed women, there are a large number of youths in the country with no job opportunities, who are also being involved in livestock rearing.

The present activities of the GOB in this sector include:

The poultry and livestock program and activities as tools of income and employment generation have been chosen mainly for two groups of people.

Poultry for landless farmers and the distressed women

The GOB strategies to make village poultry rearing more profitable includes provision of improved breed in an integrated package for landless and particularly the distressed women. The package includes motivation, group organization, and training on poultry management, vaccination, and supply of small credit to the target groups and regular supervision and advice (see Saleque in these proceedings).

The efforts to establish poultry rearing as a source of income generation and a means of poverty eradication are now implemented in the shape of eight technologies as shown in the survey below.

The ownership of backyard poultry is almost entirely in the hands of women and therefore, all poultry programs focuses the village women. In fact, except the egg collectors, 100% of the beneficiaries of the program are women and underprivileged groups of the society.

TechnologiesYearly average income
1. Key poultry rearers: Rearing 10–13 hens of improved breed in a scavenging or semi-scavenging system with little additional feed supply.Tk. 2900.00
($ 60.00)
2. Model rearers: Rearing 25–30 hens and 3–4 cocks in a semi-scavenging system with addition of some feed.Tk. 7500.00
($ 160.00)
3. Pullet rearers: Growing 100 pullets for a period of 12–15 weeks to sell to the model rearer, 3 batches in a year may be reared.Tk. 10,000.00
($ 210.00)
4. Mini poultry farmers: Rearing 50 hens in confinement with balanced feed.Tk. 7500.00
($ 160.00)
5. Chick rearers: Rears 250–300 day old chicks or ducklings for a period of 8–10 weeks and sell to the key poultry rearers or pullet rearers. At least 4 batches are reared and sold in a yearTk. 10,000.00
($ 210.00)
6. Mini-hatcherers: They collect hatching eggs from the model rearers; hatch about 300–500 eggs in each batch using the rice husk method. They sell the chicks to the chick rearers. The cycle of hatching is repeated 8–10 times a year.Tk. 18,000.00
($ 375.00)
7. Egg collectors: In the villages where the poultry extension program is undertaken, egg production increases, and to keep the market stable these persons collect the eggs from the village producers i.e. Key Rearers and sell in the local market or urban areas at a higher price.Tk. 6,000.00
($ 125.00)
8. Poultry workers: This is the most important part of the rural poultry development program. These targeted persons after a short training, receive poultry vaccines from the Government, keep the poultry vaccinated in a routine manner and get a fixed fee for their services. They advise the poultry rearers on poultry hygiene and management.Tk. 6000.00
($ 125.00)

Sketch diagram of poultry development and extension acitivities for generating employment and income earning sources

M.R. = Model Rearer
P.R. = Pullet Rearer
C.R. = Chick Rearer
K.R. = Key Rearer
E.C. = Egg Collector
F.S. = Feed Seller
P.W. = Poultry Worker
The activities are related with each other and the program is so designed that the inputs required to run their acitivites are all produced by the beneficiaries. In this program, the beneficiaries need mainly veterinary coverage credit and credit.
The types of birds used in the program are (i) Rhode Island Red, (ii) White Leghorn and (iii) Sonali, a cross bred bird made out of RIR ♂ × Fayoumi♀

Impact of the program

The technology packages used in the program of village poultry rearing activities generate varying amounts of income from $ 60.00 to $ 375.00 per annum. In the year 1988, a survey was conducted to find the result of the program with 97 key poultry rearers and the results are presented in table 2.

From the survey it was found that:

For comparison, it may be mentioned that the average per capita income in Bangladesh at present is around $ 250.00–280.00. The income earned through rearing of only 10 improved birds increased income by about seven times with little additional time and labour required. This additional income helps the target groups to buy food and other commodities of urgent need during their difficult days or festivals as documented in a later survey by Alam, 1997.

Table 2. Economic and nutritional benefits of the program

NoSurvey indicatorsBefore the programAfter one year in the program
1.Number of families surveyed9797
2.Average number of chicken/family2.78.6
3.Rate of poultry mortality21.3%7.6%
4.Sale of chicken3.420.6
5.Sale of eggs (number)93768
6.Family consumption of eggs43 nos.186 nos.
7.Family consumption of chicken1.616.7
8.Average annual income from sale of eggs and chickenTk.400.00
$ 8.00
$ 60.00

From 1986 to 1991 poultry rearing by village women has evolved through experiments sponsored by the Income Generation for the Vulnerable Group Development Program (IGVGD) which was assisted by the WFP and, which had the cooperation of an NGO (see Saleque, these proceedings) and another project namely Integrated Livestock Development Program (ILDP) funded by GOB.

Major achievements of these programs are:

  1. Employment opportunities generated.

  2. Income of the women has been increased.

  3. Social status of the women has been enhanced and the women poultry vaccinators are now regarded as “Poultry Doctors”.

  4. Awareness increased.

  5. Knowledge of nutrition increased.

  6. Improvement in environment.

  7. Saving habits developed.

  8. Credit repayment increased.

  9. Number of improved birds increased.

  10. Poultry and duck mortality rates decreased and production increased.

  11. Use of vaccine and management skill improved.

  12. Credit and management improved.

  13. Interest in the work increased.

  14. Nutritional development through increased production of eggs and meat.

  15. Reduction in vagrancy and begging.

  16. Increased interest in economic development.

  17. Literacy rate increased.

  18. Stability in family life and family health care facilities improved.

Based on the experience and the success of this program the Smallholders Livestock Development Programs (SLDP) with the financial assistance of IFAD and DANIDA was formulated and implemented from 1993 to 1998.

The program consisted of skill development of village women on poultry rearing and poultry health management through training, credit and other inputs. The program covered 0.40 million households. This program in turn has led to formulation of new programs. A summary is provided in table 3.

Table 3. Summary of poultry activities and projects

Project period1992-19981998-2002
World Bank
AnnualExpected to continue as BRAC activities
Thanas covered80894026CountrywideCountrywide
Beneficiaries: number and typeLandless poor women
(4,00000 HHs)
Landless and poor women
(364,000 HHs)
Poorest HHs with a child below 2 years or pregnant woman (an estimated 69,000 HHs)Primarily poor women
450,000 very poor women reached every year.  85% estimated to apply the model1.2 million

A socio-economic survey was conducted in 1997 for the IFAD/DANIDA assisted Small Holder Livestock Development Project (SLDP) by Dr. J. Alam of the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute and it was found that the income of the participating households increased significantly and use of income especially to the benefit of children and consumption of animal protein from eggs, chicken meat, chicken meat, milk and beef increased significantly.

These activities not only helped the target group in their poverty reduction efforts, they have also increased the growth rate of poultry in the country. Per capita availability of poultry meat and eggs has increased. Table 4 shows the production trend of poultry and egg in the country.

Table 4. Trend in poultry numbers and poultry eggs

No. of poultry (million)130.42137.84140.00143.00151.00
No. of eggs (million)2276.002400.002840.003020.003250.00

Poultry for jobless youths

It is estimated that at present the number of educated, but jobless youths are about ten million in Bangladesh. Unemployed, they are a burden to their families as well as to the society. These young people have received their education in schools and colleges, but have not got any skills of technical and income earning activities.

As it has been demonstrated that village women, if trained on poultry rearing and management and supplied with the necessary inputs can earn a reasonable income, GOB has expanded these activities to the educated, but jobless youths with the aim to develop their skills through training and assist them in finding a source of employment in livestock farming.

It is a good sign that a large number of young people are showing their interest in it. Table 5 shows the trend in development of small and medium size commercial poultry farms in the country.

Table 5. Growth in poultry farms

No. of poultry farms43,58956,56768,86375,29091,430

The establishment of poultry farms has also meant establishment of small-scale poultry farm equipment manufacturing industries, including some small and a few large-scale poultry feed manufacturing industries. These industries have also created employment and income for a number of people.

The Bangladesh poultry mode has acquired international fame and was presented to the twentieth World Poultry Congress (Jensen, 1996) that took place in New Delhi, India and there are now attempt to apply the model in countries like India, Bhutan, Nepal, Vietnam, North Korea, and Kenya etc.

Poultry Production Chain

Although our approach to using poultry production in poverty alleviation and employment generation has proven to be very useful, there are of course always aspects that can be improved upon.


The following may be cited as some of the major ones:

Physical constraints:

Biological constraints:

Financial and other constraints:

National commitment and GOB pledges towards poverty eradication

Article 28 of the constitution of Bangladesh states “Women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of state and public life”. The article states further that“ Nothing in the article shall prevent the state from making special provision in favour of women and children or for the advancement of any backward section of citizens”.

GOB pledges towards poverty eradication are stipulated from:

  1. The Dhaka Declaration during the 7th SAARC summit April 1993.
  2. The Social Summit held in Copenhagen, Denmark, March 1995.
  3. Micro-credit Summit held in Washington DC, February 1997.

From the experience described in this paper it may be opined that the fate of the most disadvantaged groups of the society, particularly the poorest women, can be improved substantially by involving them in poultry rearing activities.


It is essential to produce and maintain a stable and constant supply of food to meet the requirements of the growing population of Bangladesh.

The aim of the fifth GOB five-year plan is to fight against hunger and poverty by generating employment and income through increased production for which a livestock strategy is now in place.


Alam, J.(1997). Socio-Economic Impact of Smallholder Livestock Development Project, Field Survey, October 1997.

Amin, M.M. (1997). Chances and Opportunities of Agricultural Development in Bangladesh in the 21st Century, The Livestock Sector.

Amin, M.M. (1997). An Integrated Approach to Small Scale Poultry Farming, July 1997

Amin, M.M. (1998). Livestock Rearing Package Program, 28th July 1998.

Fattah (1998). Present status of poultry production and supply of inputs for profitable poultry rearing, 13th May 1998.

Jensen, Askov H. (1996). Semi-Scavenging Model for Rural Poultry Holding, XX World Poultry Congress, New Delhi, Vol. 1.

Rahman, A. (not dated). Poverty alleviation of destitute women through homestead livestock farming.

Saleque, Md. A. (these proceedings). Scaling-up: Critical Factors in Leadership, Management, Human Resource Development and Institution Building in going from pilot project to large scale implementation: The BRAC Poultry Model in Bangladesh.

UNDP (1996). Human Development Report 1996.

In addition the paper builds on information drawn from several GOB documents such as the current Five-Year Plan and documents on the Smallholder and the Participatory Livestock Development Projects.

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