Asifo O. Ajuyah (Fiji) - An attraction yet to be exploited by rural farmers is
the production of organic poultry meat and eggs which has niche markets in the cities and export potentials to developed countries who will pay premium prices.
In Cambodia, traditional village-level chicken raising is carried out by nearly all-farming families. The emphasis is on meat production for sale and home consumption but eggs are sometimes collected and sold instead being hatched. Very few traditional raising units at village level have been elevated to semi-intensive level.
Based on the paper from Vietnam, apart from providing animal protein, the village chicken seems to have other novel uses i.e., spiritual (yellow feathers), sports (cock fighting) and medicinal (production of tonics). My questions are two fold:
(i) for each type are there same or different breeders and relative importance in terms of commerce.
(ii) major traits or characteristics of the Ac or "tonic breed" and is the efficacy or benefits historical?
Tran Dinh Tu (Vietnam)- To your questions I try to answer as follows:
- Each type of chicken was often produced by the same breeders. Vietnamese farmers were relatively conservative. They wanted to keep their traditions and habits and often lived in isolated community. So in their region there was their own type of chickens. But recently the situation has been changed due to the impact of the market economy. The different breeders can produce the same type of chickens if this type can be sold easily at higher prices.
- Ac chicken is a specific breed raised not only in Vietnam but also in Southern provinces of China. They have white feathers, but black skin and bones and dark meat. They grow slowly, and 6 month old one may be weighted only 300 - 400 gm. Vietnamese people often cook Ac chicken with lotus seeds and some herbs to feed sick or old people as a tonic. Its efficacy is only based on the long time traditional experience and has not been evaluated scientifically.
- There is a less feathered type of chickens in Vietnam (but not featherless as developed in Israel). They grow faster than full feather type, but in general most of Vietnamese people prefer nice yellow-feathered chickens.
Manuel D Sanchez (FAO) - Recognising the invaluable contribution of the poultry model in Bangladesh and its potential applications, with necessary adaptations, to other countries, I would like to recall that there is a great opportunity, yet untapped, in many developing countries to produce local, or "criollo type", eggs and chicken meat.
If I understand correctly, the Bangladesh model is an "industrial type" model structured to involve many stakeholders, including above all small producers, in various steps in the production chain. At the end, the final product can not be physically different from the one coming from industrial production unless it is accompanied by a certification label.
The unique opportunity is to access the unsatisfied growing market of livestock products by offering a different product, the traditional product, still very appreciated (e.g. consumers willing to pay substantially more for it) in a lot of societies due to flavour, appearance, cultural value, etc. but in most places rather absent in modern market outlets.
I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a couple of weeks ago, and I was very pleased to see in one of the largest supermarkets the "ayam kampung" or traditional chicken, nicely packed side by side with the industrial chicken. It looked somehow smaller but much more appealing, with a price about 50% higher than the commercial modern type. I have been trying to get information, yet unsuccessful, on how this traditional product has made through the modern market structure. If any of the conference participants knows something or have any contacts, I would like to hear about it. If we go for this approach, then small producers will not be competing with industrial producers but rather diversifying the offer, with a superior quality product as perceived by many consumers.
In the conference we are discussing the possible application of the Bangladesh model to other situations, however the real issue is, how can we make small producers participants of the local, regional and global market with poultry (and other animal) products. Certainly the proposed model is one option, but only one, there are many other alternatives even with other types or species of poultry (criollo chickens, Muscovy ducks, common ducks, guinea fowl, turkeys, etc.). For me one of the key issues is how to organised market chain, all the way from the producer to the market outlets or large consumers (e.g. restaurants) and for this, the Bangladesh experience and others are very valuable.
Edward Mallorie (Denmark) - Manuel Sanchez of FAO has suggested that producing a traditional product that can be sold at premium prices can help small producers compete with industrial-type commercial production.
In Bangladesh the classic poultry model is based on improved breeds (such as the Sonali). The eggs produced are, as far as I know, considered to be the same as those produced in commercial battery farms and fetch no price premium. However there is a premium for eggs from local (desi) breeds of chicken. Unlike in Britain, there is no premium for the method of production - free range / backyard rather than battery cage. I wonder how the economics of producing fewer, but higher value, eggs from desi hens compares with the improved backyard system.
The growing poultry commercial sector in Bangladesh is putting downward pressure on poultry meat and egg prices. In some areas, especially near markets, back-yard poultry producers are interested in moving up to small commercial units. Although they realise that, compared to the semi-scavenging, the feed cost per hen is higher, more hens mean more profit per day. However it is more than likely that, over time, the commercial poultry sector will concentrate into the hands of a few very large integrated operations. CP of Thailand, the world's fifth largest poultry producer, has recently arrived in Bangladesh. This may ultimately squeeze out the smaller commercial producers. Although the backyard semi-scavenging system is less sensitive to adverse movement in the feed-output price ratio, lower egg and meat prices will mean that backyard production is less effective in generating an income for poor people.
Given this scenario, the future for such small-scale producers may well be in producing traditional products to be sold at premium prices. These producers will need links with premium market sectors and production systems to efficiently produce the right products for this market.
Elwin Turnbull (Australia) - The market in Nepal gives a premium price for village poultry as you have described in Malaysia. It is especially noticeable at festival times and when families have special events such as weddings. There is no government intervention to give this premium. I agree with Manuel Sanchez of FAO and Edward Mallorie that a very useful direction for government and NGO involvement is to provide facilitation for improving marketing and efficient production in the villages. An advantage of working in the villages to find improved market channels and efficiencies is that the small funds that people have for purchasing meat remains in the local area to boost the local economies. That is, it is not attracted out to purchase inputs and pay for company profits off shore. This is very important in cases where some wealth is being generated (either from agriculture or from another sector) because the wealthier one becomes the more meat that is taken into the diet so strengthening the local economy.
This principal of involving local stakeholders to design better ways at the village and district level is being applied in the Third Livestock Development Project by the Department of Livestock Services in Nepal. One of the challenges of the approach is that we as scientists have to develop new skills in working with stakeholders and we have to learn new ways of recognising and integrating the capacities of the community members in villages and districts. This is not an easy journey when we are often more comfortable seeking out and designing technically optimum production system but the Nepal experience is showing that the benefits are there.
Krishna Kaphle (Nepal) - In line with Edward Mallorie, yes the free trade and globalization will have its impact on the small producers, it is just a matter of time. The other question to be asked is what shall be the extent of modification that this model can be stretched to keep its unique identity and at the same time fit to the changing demand of time. I feel a need to create niche market for these traditional products and a marketing channel would be the solution. Psychological advantage of traditional products and the low external input involved are a boon in disguise while at the same time vulnerability to domination by commercialised sector is a challenge. Unless ways are found out to safeguard these traditional products make them competitive or protect their opportunities, wide scale replication of the model and its continuity remains a big question.
Khieu Borin - The premium prices for the traditional product or from local production systems with local breeds exist in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and it may also happen in somewhere else. The price of local chicken (live weight) is 6000-6500 riels per kg (US$ 1.5-1.65) and 3500 riels per 10 eggs (US$ 0.88) as compare with 3500-4000 riels per kg (US$ 0.89-1.0) and 2500-2800 riels per 10 eggs (US$ 0.63-0.70) of the industrial chickens. The market for the commercial chickens is mainly in restaurants and hotels where foreigners and tourists are staying. However, the products from local chickens are preferred by most of the local population. We must look into ways/strategies to improve the production of the local chickens that will bring better revenue for the rural population.
Nitya Ghotge (India) - I wish to raise the marketing issue. While ideally it may be wonderful that traditionally /"organically " raised products get a premium price in the market, the concern always remains, are the people who raise these birds organised enough to market their products profitably. Secondly will aggressive vertical marketing compromise nutritional security at the poor household level where it is most needed. In India the dairy model has often been criticised for depriving the families of producers milk as all the produce enters the market. Should we not therefore also be considering the strengthening of local markets whereby there is movement and exchange of goods horizontally /laterally as well as vertically.
Thabani Maposha (Zimbabwe) - In Zimbabwe because eggs from village chickens are small they would fetch either an equal or lesser price compared to exotics. They are slightly expensive when sold by vendors at growth points as boiled eggs. The most expensive poultry egg is that of Guinea fowl mainly because its sold and bought for breeding purposes.
Harm de Vries (Venezuela) - Do the eggs from the scavenging system fetch a higher price than the eggs from the commercial farms?
Frands Dolberg (Denmark) -To Harm de Vries above question, I dare not say whether eggs from the scavenging system fetch a higher price than the eggs from the commercial farms, when the eggs are from exotic birds, but when the eggs are from local breeds they do - according to my own observations from several countries. The price difference we found recently in Cambodia was about 50% per egg. It would be interesting to know of more examples.