Something to crow about in the Comoros

Catalysing change across small island developing states

FAO and partners deliver manure, seed, guava seedlings and tools to island communities in the Maldives. ©FAO/Prakash Singh


The Union of Comoros, or the Comoros, is an archipelago of volcanic islands off the south-east coast of Africa. It boasts blissful weather, swaying palm trees and clear waters.

But it is also one of the world's poorest nations, hampered by few natural resources, high dependence on imported food, and the constant threat of natural disasters.

The consequences are stark.

The Comoros imports about 70 percent of its food, and the import rate of some foods, such as poultry, is as high as 90 percent. Half of the population – about half a million people - do not have enough to eat, and malnutrition rates are amongst the highest in the world.

To address this, one area identified by the Government of Comoros and FAO in 2017 to improve people’s access to home-grown, nutritious food as well as boost their income was the poultry sector.

Since then, FAO and its partners have been working with some 400 farmers – about half of them women, and nearly three quarters of them young people - to set up poultry groups and over 250 henhouses. 

Farmers in the Comoros use a modern feeder provided by FAO so their chickens have all the necessary nutrient-rich feed and water (left). ©FAO/Jobert Tchuidjang. Women prepare feed for their chickens in the Comoros (right). ©FAO/Jobert Tchuidjang

They provided them with 16 solar-powered incubators (on 12 sites) and five chickens per person, and trained some 450 people – farmers and government workers - in raising poultry. FAO has also provided vaccination services.

The benefits have started to trickle in. Each month, farmers count between 800-900 new chickens, and 21,000 eggs.

“Many things have changed since I’m part of this project. I have eggs for my family and I can also sell them. With the money, I can buy more food and school supplies for my children,” said mother of five Nailata Dine who lives on Anjouan island.

“I have always loved keeping chickens, but I have never really invested in this. I used to keep five-six chickens for several years. Now I have 60 chickens, and I’m starting to have the courage to devote myself to having a chicken farm,” said 43-years-old Rajab Saïd from Anjouan.

“The people in our poultry group can live off this. Other people want to join our group now, and young people are starting to take an interest,” said Zalia Zamfa, a group leader of 12 farmers from the island of Mwali.

Small island developing states (SIDS) such as the Comoros have more than their fair share of complex environmental and development challenges – from climate change to limited natural resources, and high dependence on imported foods. There are challenges that are already having drastic consequences, challenges that they cannot combat alone.

A Samoan farmer at work. Making every drop counts in Matautu village. ©FAO/Kevin Hadfield

FAO and its partners are helping small island nations around the world to achieve sustainable development.

In the Pacific, FAO is boosting nutrition in schools, promoting nutritional understanding and supporting healthy eating habits both inside and outside the classroom.

Cabo Verde is working with FAO to harness the potential of its surrounding seas thanks to the Blue Growth  initiative, which includes developing ecotourism, improving marine transport networks to facilitate tourism and exploration of other islands, and creating jobs for young people who too often are forced to seek work abroad.

In Samoa, FAO and partners set up demonstration farms to train farmers in sustainable land management, including agroforestry, compost preparation, green manure and crop rotation, organic pest management, contour planting and other measures to avoid soil erosion. This has led to increased food, income and consumption of fruits and vegetables, and the preservation of highland forests - vital for the island’s ecological balance.

In Grenada, Jamaica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, FAO is helping to establish public–private agriculture insurance programmes to help communities better cope with frequent natural disasters.

In Fiji, FAO is working with the government to provide women with the same opportunities as men. This includes providing fisherwomen them with marine kits to improve their safety at sea. Each kit contains a personal locator beacon, a strobe light, a signalling mirror and whistle, a rescue laser and sea rescue streamer, a VHF radio, a sea anchor, life jackets, a directional compass, a first aid kit and two thermal emergency blankets.

Farmers in Cabo Verde, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe and Seychelles have benefitted from training in climate-smart food production and creating viable market opportunities for nutritious food, including identifying opportunities to enter high-value niche markets through Fair Trade or organic labelling.

In the Maldives, FAO is working with family farmers to adapt climate-resilient agriculture practices such as rainwater harvesting, storage and drip irrigation, and planting on protected raised beds to avoid flood damage.

FAO’s ultimate goal is to help small island nations implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and enable people to lead healthy and productive lives.

Learn more:  

2. Zero hunger, 3. Good health and well-being, 14. Life below water