February 2003 --
Ngozi, a small
town in the north of Burundi. This is home to Thérèse, who lost
her husband five years ago. She is 45 years old but looks closer
to 65. Her days are spent working the land a few miles from the
mud hut, thatched with banana leaves, where she lives with her
two daughters and ten grandchildren.
soon as her work is over, Thérèse rushes home to take care of
her dozen chickens and cockerel. By day they graze around her
hut but when night falls she must bring them inside to sleep in
the kitchen where she can watch them and protect them from
Thérèse doesn't sell the
eggs her chickens lay, she prefers instead to keep them so that
they hatch and grow into chickens. They are a sort of piggybank
-- she sells one whenever she needs to buy maize, soup or
aspirin for herself or her grandchildren.
Poultry keeping is making an important contribution to
the livelihoods of the most vulnerable rural households in
developing countries. Chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl all
provide a source of income, improve nutrition and help meet
family and social obligations.
raised on family farms also make a significant contribution,
along with the commercial sector, to meeting the rapidly growing
demand for poultry products in many developing countries.
During the last decade, the consumption of
poultry products in developing countries has grown by 5.8
percent per year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture
countries, FAO is supporting family poultry production in
integrated agricultural projects totalling more than US$ 2.5
million for 2003. Poultry and other short-cycle species such as
pigs, sheep and goats, are important elements of FAO's
Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS).
Launched in 1994, this Programme helps Low Income Food
Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) improve food security both at
national and at household levels. Today, it is operating in more
than 70 countries.
The SPFS helps Nigeria
improve poultry production. In 2000 in this country, family
poultry accounted for approximately 94 percent of total poultry
keeping and 83 percent of the estimated 82 million adult
chickens. In Ethiopia, another country operating within the
SPFS, rural poultry accounts for 99 percent of the national
production of poultry meat and eggs. Overall, in sub-Saharan
Africa, 85 percent of all households keep poultry, with women
owning 70 percent of the hens.
example of the contribution of poultry to the household economy
comes from a study on income generation in Tanzania. The study
showed that a single hen can produce, after five years, 120 kg
of meat and 195 eggs (6.8 kg) in a system where the investment
is insignificant and runs by itself, with little risk for the
A major motivation for
promoting family poultry is that "Women are often the
main beneficiaries," FAO expert Emmanuelle
prerequisites for successful programmes to improve household
poultry production, the FAO expert cites:
The Bangladesh model
a tradition of keeping
poultry and consuming poultry
a local or
capacity to undertake disease
reliable drugs and
institutional environment (Government or NGO) capable of
initiating and supervising a poultry programme in rural
FAO experts are currently cooperating with the
International Network for Family Poultry Development (INFPD) and
DANIDA to extend the awareness of the Bangladesh model for
family poultry production to other developing countries
(Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Benin, Kenya, Mozambique).
The Bangladesh poultry model is based on a
semi-scavenging production system which ensures sustainability
and reduces chicken mortality. The model is an interlacednetwork
ofsmall farmers who each have a specific function and are
committed to four different parts of the production cycle: as
breeders, as rearers, as mini hatcheries keepers and as
producers of the end product (eggs).
Small farmers depend on each other as suppliers for a
part of the chain. Eggs sold in nearby towns generate regular
income. Vaccination training, improved housing and better
feeding options reduce chicken mortality.
Government through the Department of livestock and a number of
NGOs provides the institutional structure behind the Bangladesh
"The smallholder model
developed in Bangladesh is one of the most structured and
carefully designed programmes in any developing country. Chicken
mortality has been brought down to an acceptable level and the
resource use efficiency, mainly relative to feed, seems even to
be competitive with the intensive poultry production,"
Ms Guerne-Bleich says.
In Bangladesh, the
family poultry sector represents more than 80 percent of the
total poultry production, and 90 percent of the 18 million rural
households keep poultry. Landless families form 20 percent of
the population and they keep between five and seven chickens per
+(39)06 5705 6660
+(39)06 5705 3764
+(39)06 5705 2232