The poultry sector continues to grow and industrialize in many parts of the world. An increasing population, greater purchasing power and urbanization have been strong drivers of growth.
Advances in breeding have given rise to birds that meet specialized purposes and are increasingly productive, but that need expert management. The development and transfer of feed, slaughter and processing technologies have increased safety and efficiency, but favour large-scale units rather than small-scale producers. These developments have led the poultry industry and the associated feed industry to scale up rapidly, to concentrate themselves close to input sources or final markets, and to integrate vertically. One element of the structural change has been a move towards contract farming in the rearing phase of boiler production, allowing farmers with medium-sized flocks to gain access to advanced technology with a relatively low initial investment.
A clear division is developing between industrialized production systems of large and medium size feeding into integrated value chains, and extensive production systems supporting livelihoods and supplying local or niche markets. The primary role of the former is to supply cheap and safe food to populations distant from the source of supply, while the latter acts as a livelihood safety net, often as part of a diverse portfolio of income sources.
Traditional small-scale, rural, family-based poultry systems continue to play a crucial role in sustaining livelihoods in developing countries, supplying poultry products in rural areas, and providing important support to women farmers. Small-scale poultry production will continue to offer opportunities for income generation and quality human nutrition as long as there is rural poverty.
The Animal Production and Health Division’s (AGA) programme on poultry production focuses on medium-scale commercial and small-scale family production systems in developing countries, which can make a significant contribution to improved livelihoods and local economic development. This will be achieved through the provision of topical information, guidance and technical support to member countries and support of the International Network on Family Poultry Development.