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Conclusions and Recommendations

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

- Outcome and Recommendations


Sixty professionals with experiences from developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, employed by universities, research institutions, governments, NGOs, Consultancy companies and multi- and bi-lateral aid agencies met in Denmark March 22–26, 1999 at the course centre Tune Landboskole to conduct a workshop on poultry as a tool in poverty eradication and promotion of gender equality.

There were several good reasons that justified the workshop: Donor agencies and recipient countries alike have poverty alleviation and gender equally high on their lists of priorities. However, while a broad menu of productive interventions is difficult to identify that poor women profitably can undertake, the very positive impact on women's and children's lives recorded in impact studies of the semiscavenging poultry model developed and applied in projects in Bangladesh ( served as a strong impetus, and it has inspired the creation in Denmark of a multi-disciplinary Network for Poultry Production and Health in Developing Countries. The Network has just had its first major grant approved by Danida and was interested in updating its knowledge on small scale rural poultry production as an input to detailed planning of its activities. On this background the objectives of the workshop were:

The workshop had representatives from several disciplines and received more than 30 papers and reports on topics dealing with the Danish human resource base in tropical agriculture; the situation in ongoing projects; scaling up, networking and replication; interactions between poultry breeds and their production environments, diseases and nutrition, capacity building (training and education) and links between users, institutions and technologies. In a final session the following topics were first discussed at length in group sessions and subsequently reported and commented upon in a plenary session:

1. Training and information dissemination

Training and Information Dissemination impinge on all the other topics under discussion, including the replication and adaptation of development models, research and extension and government policies. It is critical to the development of family poultry for poverty alleviation and gender equity.

The subject is considered within the specific context (poultry, poverty and gender) but divided between training and information and subdivided into the needs of:



The objectives of training were considered to be:


It is important to start from what the farmers know using interviews, discussions, etc. All the various methods were considered, including RRA, PRA, surveys and questionnaires. The various techniques of seasonal planning, demonstrations, farmer contact, tours, media (newsletters, radio, TV, theatre.) were included. The importance of monitoring and evaluation was also considered.

The Integrated Farmer Field School (IFFS) that was pioneered in Integrated Pest Management and now applied to other subject areas as well as considered the central model. It was described to the workshop in a presentation from Cambodia and it contains all the elements of the methodology and subject matter (with 70% practical work, village group formation and group work).

But it was noted that the BRAC/DLS model in Bangladesh that almost exclusively serves landless women differed in the duration of training and the degree of formality. Training was 4–5 days followed by return to the household, then a refresher course, compared to 4 hours per week for 20 weeks the first season in the IFFS. The differences between subject matters, countries, gender (women's responsibilities in cooking require attention to hours of the day and location of the training) and cultures (women's mobility, previous exposure to education and degrees of communication between household members, i.e. does the trained person communicate his or her skills) in preparation of the training schedule were noted.

But the training still reaches too few people and is too costly in time and resources. One answer is to train more trainers. The training of farmers by farmers and selling their training skills was one long-term goal. Another solution is levying of technical service charges as in the programmes in Bangladesh that apply microcredit.


One major problem, apart from budget constraints, is that extensionists and technicians are too tied up with their work and their time is limited, the information that reaches them is scarce since there is no flow of information from the regional, national or international level, and much of the information is out of date or not relevant as the subject of poultry as a tool in poverty alleviation has been and is neglected by research. This situation needs to be improved.

This could be the dissemination of relevant information material that could be used in farmer manuals, which includes:

and so on… The material could be produced on paper, video, audio, etc.

Problems include the language and relevance to the users, so a manual should be for two levels: one at the level of the trainers and one for the farmer. The importance of pictures was stressed, i.e. “talking pictures”.

A comprehensive manual for trainers was referred to as an idea catalogue, which can be modified, subject to the place and people.

It was discussed who should be responsible for constructing the idea catalogue. It was concluded that everyone could contribute and participate in a global website. This would include all the elements above, especially the talking pictures and particular attention was needed to relevance to the needs of trainers and farmers.

The information technology aspects were not discussed as it was concluded that the facilities existed on the world wide web and the possibilities of computer communications, CD-ROMs, etc. could be used by all and were becoming available in all countries as witnessed by the near 100% access by the workshop participants. However, there is a need for donors and governments to enable the outreach and quality of access.

The idea catalogue would allow exchange of ideas and experiences between (eco-) regions and countries. Information is disseminated locally at traditional centres: coffee houses, places of worship, bars and other common meeting points. In principle the cybercafé falls into the same category.

Refresher courses are also needed. One time training is not enough. There must be follow up and the long term goal must be that training is done by farmers or their organisations, that they can sell their knowledge and therefore be independent of the initial help that needs to be given to them.

Funding for training must come from the farmers, i.e. they pay for training, so that there will be motivation. In Mali for example, farmers developed their own consulting group. NGOs could be created by farmers, probably not called cooperatives as these are not liked by farmers in some countries, but other examples were presented to the workshop like NGOs in Bangladesh moving towards financial independence and the Grameen Bank replication in Mirzapur, India that aim at financial independence within five years and yet plan to include a poultry program.

Who will pay for training the trainers? Initially one has to start with donor funds and then lead them into self-dependent processes. Donors need to start, but it must eventually be sustainable.

Training of trainers

This has been the weak link in the process. They need training in both methodology and subject matter.

Most extensionists and technicians are trained in universities and colleges, but these institutions do not focus on the needs of trainers and, specifically for rural poultry, this has not been included in the curriculum.

It was discussed whether there was a need for new institutions or whether existing institutions could adapt to the need. The problems of changing existing institutions were recognised but this was not ruled out.

However, it was not suggested that specialist poultry institutes should be set up as the problem applies to rural livestock, sustainable natural resource use systems and integrated farming as well. Besides experience does already show that while an initial investment in poultry for very poor people represents a first step out of poverty, a subsequent investment may be in other activities such as other types of livestock, farming activities, land or non-farm activities.

It was discussed how this training should be done and it was found that the proceedings of the workshop would contain useful examples from the models presented. These include for farmers the IFFS in Cambodia and BRAC/DLS in Bangladesh, the client focused training of extensionists by the Nordic Agricultural Academy and the integrated natural resource utilisation model for graduate and post-graduate students by the University of Tropical Agriculture Foundation in Vietnam and Cambodia. A common feature in these models is their focus on practical application of the skills obtained in training. In fact practical on-farm work with farmers is a common denominator.


Research in the area of scavenging and family poultry is almost non-existent. There is therefore an urgent need to involve researchers at all levels of scavenging and family poultry production systems.

Students should identify their own projects and there should be more participation, more on-farm research and feedback to the farmers' needs. Several references during the workshop were made to one experiment ( ~ lrrd/lrrd9/3/bang931.htm) in which about 300 poor women acted as experimental hosts in a poultry breed evaluation, but it was also shown in another paper that there is a strong need for researchers to broaden their methodological tool kits for participatory research with farmers to be meaningful and to link logically between problem identification, research design and conduct of the research.

It was suggested that there should be a kind of community service or ‘military service’ for all researchers to ensure that they remain in touch with the farmers' problems.

Policy makers

Data must be collected and provided to the policy makers to convince them of the importance of rural poultry as a tool in poverty alleviation and gender equality and the associated training needs.

At local and national levels, poultry must be included in budgets and legislation and obstructions of subsidies and taxes need to be removed. A liberal market condition should be developed and infrastructure should be generally improved to facilitate access to markets.

2. Conditions for replication and adaptation

There was disagreement with regard to the possibilities for replication and adaptation and the variety of opinions ranging from:

to the view

It was pointed out that micro-credit was an exception, but for scavenger poultry, replication of the Bangladesh (BRAC/DLS) model in other countries does not seem to be possible although it is noted that there are important lessons in the emphasis the Bangladesh NGO BRAC's top managers put on research and training as a precondition for expansion of its programmes.

In place of replication and adaptation it was discussed how to improve scavenger poultry production in different contexts.

Consensus was reached to list some practices based on professional experiences, which emphasize the following points:

3. Research and extension

The following topics were dealt with:

  1. Research areas
  2. Research capacity
  3. Research approach
  4. Dissemination and publication
  5. Research and extension links
  6. Indigenous knowledge

Research areas

Smallholder poultry production aimed to benefit poor women and their families has never been a priority of the international (CGIAR) agricultural research system or the National Agricultural Research Systems. In general the amount of research conducted has been very little on any of the relevant subjects be it diseases, socio-economic (gender, culture, income or production systems), management including hatching practices and housing, marketing and processing, monitoring and evaluation and indigenous knowledge. In the case of nutrition and genetics some more may be known, but far from enough. Areas of immediate concern to research were identified to be:


There is little information about diseases (including nutritional diseases). Baseline studies involving long term studies have to be done. This should include postmortems and isolation of diseases agents. The relationship between marketing practices and diseases need to be studied.


Supplementary feeding based on locally available resources that accounts for the natural environment and seasons. Such work should be combined with breeding to study any interactions between nutrition and breeding.


First collection of local breeds is required and then follows identification of ecotypes. The third step is studies on some of the identified eco-types, but to yield meaningful results such studies must be conducted in the system of production (scavenging or semi-scavenging), where the results will have to be applied.


There is a need for research that uses data dis-aggregated by age, sex and socioeconomic group in order to know within a household who does what. Who controls which resources, the division of labour, cultural aspects, etc. The contribution of poultry within the context of the household's farming system is little understood.


The need is for descriptions and comparisons of systems of management to identify areas for research and extension on topics like general care, hatching and housing.

Marketing and processing

There is a need for surveys that describe market channels and identify existing and potential bottlenecks within them - and their contribution to spread of diseases. The workshop also identified a need to understand better, which products (eggs, meat, chicken raising, and barter) are most important under a given set of circumstances.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The main need is for development of qualitative methods of monitoring and evaluation and there is a need to find indicators that can be used in such evaluations. Judged from the report on replication of the Grameen Bank presented to the workshop, there may be important features in existing monitoring systems applied on other subject matters to incorporate in the poultry work.

Research capacity

In view of the neglect so far, there is an obvious need for building up national and international research capacity on smallholder poultry production aimed to benefit poor women.

Research approach

The dominant approach should be holistic, multidisciplinary and participatory. Obviously, the research approach (es) chosen in a particular situation will depend on the topic(s) to be researched, but the emphasis should be on providing the scientists with a sufficiently broad menu of methodologies that will allow important questions of relevance to poor women to be researched, and which will avoid that limited knowledge of methodologies leads to rejection of important research questions. These considerations are particularly important in situations of on-farm and participatory research. However, research should be done at all levels according to the needs (on farm, on station and in laboratory) at local, national and international (ILRI and other organisations) levels.

Dissemination and publication (academic level)

Judged by the previous record, scarce funding and limited expertise, smallholder poultry is not yet regarded as an area of importance in terms of political aspects or scientific prestige.


One reason that may contribute to the low importance of rural poultry in terms of political and scientific prestige is a general lack of literature showing the importance of rural poultry.

Researchers are therefore urged to carry out research in this area and to publish the work in international refereed journals. Some problems were identified in relation to this:

  1. Quality of the current work being carried out

  2. Lack of suitable journals (do we need to create our own journal?)

  3. Existing journals may not accept papers on scavenging poultry, which may relate to the perceptions of science of the referees of international journals as many problems are of a multidisciplinary nature.


Several proven tools exist for dissemination of information.

The ongoing first electronic conference on family poultry sponsored by the International Network for Family Poultry Development (INFPD) and FAO1 clearly illustrates that this is one tool for exchange of information and INFPD now publishes its newsletter electronically as well as in hard copy by airmail and it is one obvious publication to use for dissemination.

Workshops and international conferences are proven tools and important for initial face-to-face contacts.

Popular articles can be written for newspapers and magazines and programs prepared for radio and television.

1. Which is managed by Dr. E. Fallou Guèye ([email protected]), who participated in the workshop.

Research and extension links from the extension perspective

The limited outreach of livestock extension across developing countries is well known. The experience from Bangladesh shows that in a given situation a strategy combining micro-credit, targeting of poor women and NGOs can provide a very effective outreach mechanism beyond the limited number of farmers having large ruminants that government livestock extension services traditionally confine them-selves to. As the dominating policy mood continues to be for slimmer government and privatisation, there is presently much experimentation with alternative extension mechanisms2 taking place and research and experimentation in this area need to continue.

There is still a strong need to make research relevant through farm orientation and use of applied and participatory methods.

Regular workshops, close relationship between researchers and extension workers, feedback from extension workers to researchers and vice-versa must continue to be encouraged.

Indigenous knowledge

There is a need to study indigenous knowledge in relation to scavenging poultry. One obvious area could be the knowledge of indigenous plants in the treatment of diseases.

2. This was the topic of the 1997 Tune workshop and the proceedings are available on the Internet at this address:

4. Government Policy on Poverty and Gender

There must be commitment to poverty eradication and gender equality and the governments shall provide the legal background for NGOs and other organisations to contribute to poverty eradication and gender equality in line with the international declarations such as

for poverty eradication:

The Dhaka Declaration of the 7th SAARC summit of April 1993, the Social Summit held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in March 1994 and the Micro-credit Summit, Washington D.C., February 1997.

According to these declarations the national governments should have specific policy instruments, strategies and legislation to reduce poverty among children, disabled and the hard core poor, which should be reflected in their national development plans, budgets and institutional structures. There should be adequate human resources dedicated to poverty eradication (e.g. 1 extension officer per 500 poor) and openness to development activities by NGOs.

These concerns should also be reflected in the priorities of the development agencies.

There should be mass mobilisation of the disadvantaged by NGOs coupled with cooperation (lobbying) of government functionaries and closer GO-NGO collaboration. Transparency and accountability should prevail at all levels.

For other disadvantaged rural groups such as the disabled: the blind, lame, deaf, crippled and emotionally disabled, etc who make up part of the hard core poor, the national governments should legislate in their support. Such legislation may comprise targeting of income generating activities at the disabled and disadvantaged, using subsidies if necessary and government should ensure that established social welfare systems are reactivated and strengthened.

for women:

Pertinent declarations are the International Declarations for Women and the Beijing Declaration of 1995. According to these the national governments should mainstream gender concerns and make special provision in favour of women.

This is all the more justified as it has been conclusively documented that poor women are more committed to use development projects for the improvement of their families' welfare. They use increased incomes for family food security and the family's economic advancement.

Governments should therefore legislate for gender equality and ensure enforcement of the laws and make the necessary constitutional provisions to favour women (e.g. article 28 of the Bangladeshi Constitution states: “Women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of state and public life”. The article states further “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”).

Education should be free and compulsory up to the first 10 years of school and provision should be made for scholarships to girls. Child marriages should be prohibited (minimum 18 for girls and 21 years for boys) and there should be legislative control of polygamy and polyandry. Fairness in inheritance laws should be ensured.

There should be legislation in support of other disadvantaged rural groups such as the blind, lame, deaf and crippled, who make up part of the hard core poor.

Income generating activities should be targeted at the disabled and disadvantaged; using subsidies if necessary and established social welfare systems should be reactivated and strengthened.

Family Poultry Development should be seen as a tool in the above socio-economic context and governments, bi- and multi-lateral development agencies and institutions and NGOs should place more emphasis on family poultry in order to reach their target groups of women and the poor. They should establish a policy of Family Poultry Development as a means of income generation, poverty eradication, and employment and protein food production.

Family Poultry is accessible to the poorest of the poor as proven once again during the present workshop. It enables the illiterate to develop their skills and knowledge, which could be applied to other activities as well. It is a means to human resource development.

National governments should ensure that inputs (day old chicks, vaccines, diagnostics and feed analytical services and research support) are provided not necessarily by undertaking the activities, but as a minimum by providing conducive policy frameworks.

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