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Backyard Poultry – A success story of a tribal start-up

Kanna K. Siripurapu, Aneetha Kanukolanu, Sabyasachi Das and Chandrasekhar Nemani

Backyard poultry with native breeds is easy to manage, less risky and can generate better incomes, for the poor households. It has the potential to alleviate rural poverty, eradicate malnutrition and create employment opportunities too. With a little external support, by initiating small farm enterprises, the tribal communities in Andhra Pradesh have shown that it is possible to improve health and livelihoods.


Backyard Poultry is easy to manage and generates good income

Traditionally, backyard poultry comprising mainly the native breeds adapted well to the local and varying climatic conditions, accounted for 70 per cent of meat and egg production in the country. In over three decades, poultry in India has moved rapidly from the backyard (BY) to intensive commercial production.  Modern poultry is one of the fastest growing industries across the world. However, it often involves large-scale commercially produced crossbreeds. Although large-scale intensive commercial poultry production has tremendously increased the availability of meat and eggs in the country, it has also had serious health and environmental consequences.

The backyard poultry programme 

The small-scale, often free ranging, backyard poultry (BYP) is still the widespread animal production system in India. BYP has tremendous potential and is ideal to augment the income and nutrition of small and marginal farmers. It could be promoted either commercially or as part of an integrated model involving small and marginal farmers across the country, especially in the rainfed areas.

CIG Meeting
Women in Peddakodapalli village getting educated on the merits of backyard poultry during a CIG meeting

In this context, in 2016, the Department of Animal Husbandry (DAH) and the Tribal Welfare Department (TWD) of the Government of Andhra Pradesh (AP) designed the Rural Desi Backyard Poultry (BYP) programme with the objective of improving the income and nutrition of 13000 Adivasi households. The interventions include improvement to production systems, vaccination and healthcare services, establishment of a breeding farm enterprise and setting up of CIG (Common Interest Group) poultry fund at the cluster level. With WASSAN as the Lead Technical Agency (LTA),  the programme has been initiated in 129 clusters of the 5 districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari.

A Tribal woman managing poultry birds in her backyard

The present article showcases the experience of the project implemented in PedaKodapalli village in Visakhapatnam district.

The Initiative

PedaKodapalli is a village in Pedabayalu mandal, with 102 households. Majority of them are poor depending on agriculture and wage labour for their livelihoods. Some households were rearing poultry in their backyards, in the past. However, they had to discontinue it for various reasons – lack of supply of native chicken breeds, predation owing to lack of proper night shelters, high mortality rate due to lack of access to health care facilities and lack of knowledge. Thereafter, the communities relied mostly on commercially produced broiler chicken meat and eggs for their consumption needs.

During the second half of 2016, WASSAN started working in this village, with the field support from LAYA, the local NGO. Community mobilization meetings were organized especially with women and self-help groups (SHGs) to explain the details of the BYP programme. Consequently, Common Interest Groups (CIG) were formed. A mandatory fee of Rs.300 is paid by all the members, of which Rs. 100 is towards one-time membership fee and the remaining Rs. 200 is a pre-paid amount paid to avail health care services for the birds. Each CIG household was supported with Rs. 3000 (Rs 2700 towards construction of night shelter for chicken and Rs 300 towards purchase of five 45-day old chicks) to initiate backyard poultry.

Backyard poultry breeding farm

A Breeder Farm was established to ensure local production and regular supply of desi chicken to local CIG members. Mr. Koda Abbaidora, a CIG member of PedaKodapalii village offered to start the BYP breeder farm and supply chicks to the CIG members.

Koda allocated half-an-acre of his land for the farm. He invested Rs.30000, while the project supported to the tune of Rs.96,500, for establishing the breeder farm. The amount was used for the infrastructure, which included construction of an enclosure/pen, fencing, purchase of water and feed dispensers, purchase of birds, purchase of feed for a year etc. The process was initiated in the second half of the year 2016.  It took about six months to complete the process. The BYP breeding farm became operational in May 2017 with 60 birds.

The BYP breeder farm became a game changer with native chicken breeds being produced and supplied locally. Koda, till now, has sold 480 one-month old chicks to 86 CIG members at the price of Rs. 80/- per chick. Each household reared at least 5 – 10 chicken in their backyard.

Besides CIG members, the desi chicken were also sold in the domestic markets. Around 45 black chicks and 11 chicken were sold, providing a return of Rs.11,650. Eggs were sold only to a few select customers, as Koda preferred selling chicks over eggs. In 2017, around 65% of  Koda’s family income was generated from the Breeder Farm.

Access to health care and other services

The nearest government veterinary clinic is located at Paderu, around 15 kms from the village, making health services inaccessible to the local communities. To overcome this problem, the project decided to train local para-veterinarians. Selected members, preferably women, were trained for 2 – 3 days on health care practices related to chicken and other livestock. Veterinary doctors of the local veterinary clinic and staff of the facilitating agency and WASSAN served as resource persons for training the para-veterinarians.

The trained para-veterinarians provide livestock health services to the communities. Two para-veterinarians serve every 100 households. An amount of Rs 2 is paid to the para-veterinarian for their services, thereby generating employment to the local people. An amount of Rs. 2 is deducted from the CIG member pre-paid amount (Rs.200 paid during enrolment), every time a bird is treated for a disease or infection. The CIG member should top-up the balance when the balance is exhausted. Since deployment of para-veterinarians, the adoption of prescribed health care practices has increased reducing the mortality rate of chickens.

Information and knowledge for services related to health care and best management practices are being supported by LAYA and WASSAN. In addition, social networks of likeminded individuals, friends, act as another source of information to the members.

Impacts

With all the households of the village rearing backyard poultry, the traditional culture of rearing native chicken breeds has come alive at PedaKodapalli village.  The local communities are able to consume eggs and meat produced in their backyard, on a regular basis. Also, the chicken and eggs, produced in the backyards are healthy compared to commercially produced chicken, thus ensuring better health to the families.

With the establishment of Breeding Farm, not only are chicks accessible to the households, the entrepreneurs are also able to make a decent living by selling chicks and chicken. Chicken droppings are recycled as manure for the crops, thus enhancing soil fertility.

 Desi chicken has surely made a comeback in PedaKodapalii village.

A woman receives chicks from the project team

References:

CSE, FST Report: Antibiotic Resistance in Poultry Environment. 2018, Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi.

GOI, 19thLivestock Census, 2012 – All India Report, 2012, Ministry of Agriculture Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi.

WASSAN, Desi Poultry – Project Brief, 2017, WASSAN. Accessed online:

http://www.wassan.org/desipoultry/page_1.htm

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Department of Animal Husbandry (DoAH), Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), and all the facilitating agencies associated with BYP in Andhra Pradesh for their constant support.

Aneetha Kanukolanu

Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN)

#12-13-452, Street No.1, Tarnaka

Secunderabad, Telangana – 500017

Email: aneethak@wassan.org