Research in this area has a key role to achieve in order to not only avoid mistakes of the past (projects sustainability, introduction of unsuitable genotypes, copying of success stories from elsewhere.) but also to strengthen food security and increase income through original means, adapted to environmental needs, to alleviate poverty, to increase employment, to promote gender equality where it is the most needed.
To reach such goals and promote FP, regional approaches are needed where the local population remains the key player with sound ,efficient ,cost effective integrated programs. Developing specific tools or appropriate research methodology in this area remains an important challenge. Commitments of more resources to successful programs will then become a prority . Multidisciplinary approaches in coordination and complementary to existing or on going programs must be the angular stones of new research projects.
Coordination of research goals to extension and training programs is an achievable goal.
Improved chicken genotypes have been introduced in previous programs (5). The successes and failures of these operations remains a topic of controversy. Their longterm impact on FP systems productivity has been rather limited. In a time where bio diversity and preservation of genetic resources is a world priority, these introductions of new genetic pools are of great concern.
Improvement of local flock performance can be attained however through planned and controlled selection and crossbreeding. Previous studies conducted on rustic breeds in local conditions have demonstrated that crossbred performed better than local chickens and had specific advantages compared to commercial lines. (5) To improve biological productivity of FP genetic resources, continuing on-farm performance monitoring is required to quantify efficiency and genotype-environment interactions.
Inadequate housing facilities, low quality and insufficient feed supply,lack of awareness and above all unavailability of environmentally suited chicks all contribute to high mortality and reduced productivity which can be substantially improved through appropriate disease control strategies. Major diseases and constraints conditions limiting FP should be evaluated in relation to the investigated areas rather than copying stereotyped models developed elsewhere. Sound surveillance services, regional epidemiological networks ,simple evaluation and monitoring systems and a stable supply of the strictly needed products to remote areas are key factors to long-term success.
Practical bio-safety measures, specifically designed control programs and availability of products suitable for FP are all prerequisites to efficient control programs. Sensitizing veterinary services to develop effective, adapted control methods for the main diseases encountered is only a part of sustainable projects. These realistic strategies and others will increase prevention and control of major poultry diseases encountered.
Numerous possibilities for improvements of FP can be tried such as training, products diversification,extension and credit availability services. The main priorities are to be selected for each region according to its particular needs.
FP farming should be oriented more toward quality in a broad sense including product quality, environment preservation instead of quantity oriented mass production. Development of niche markets to increase added value products, creation of “Appellation d'origine contrôlée” and “label products” in addition to diversification are few of the possibilities. Poultry products obtained from these systems have a good image; their acceptability is not hindered by any of the usual stimuli of consumer environment. Local policy makers currently placing a growing emphasis on developing traceability systems for intensive animal productions should extend their concerns to FP products.
A three fold mission for government role can be assigned: - establishing clear standards and regulations which benefit all chain participants; - co-ordinating efforts of agencies, NGO's ,state and international services, mass media operating in FP sector, - developing harmonious long-term collaboration, building partnership, mutual benefit relationships with the farmers. In the institutional process, better linkages should be established among FP farmers, government participants and markets. These combined efforts will promote FP and increase food security. Extension and information, training and continuing education are usually among state duties. Strengthening through education, training of human resources in their respective functions and amplifying access and transfer of knowledge for FP managers are the priorities.
Appropriate teaching materials specifically designed for target populations should be developed using local languages. There is an increasing need for information and communication, effective extension materials and tested methodologies.