|Food Security, Economic Empowerment, Improved Livelihoods – all rolled up in the Kenyan Indigenous Chicken Value Chain|
|Friday, 08 January 2016 13:21|
Innovative research with robust recommendations for development is taking place in DRUSSA Universities – if you have any doubt take a look through the various Research Uptake Communications Campaigns run by DRUSSA in 2013, and 2014/15. Another example comes from Kenyatta University, as Violet Tindi explains, where recommendations have been made for enhancement of productivity in rearing chickens, an important form of food security in Kenya.
Indigenous chicken (IC) production is an important agricultural activity in many Kenyan households, and it constitutes 80% of the total poultry population in Kenya. This form of food security remains the most important in the majority of rural resource-poor households particularly in semi-arid districts (such as Makueni) where it significantly contributes to household income, food and nutrition. Despite its importance, very little research has been carried to enhance productivity. Prof. Lucy Kabuage, an animal production specialist at the Department of Agricultural Resource Management in the School of Agriculture and Enterprise Development at Kenyatta University was awarded a competitive research grant by the Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Programme (KAPAP) for a 3 year project. The research project, ‘Enhancing Indigenous Chicken Value Chain (ICVC) for higher productivity and bio-secure products in Makueni’, falls within the broader Meats Value Chain research programme entitled ‘Developing reforms for promoting Arid and Semi-Arid Land communities in drought mitigation and maximization of livestock resources for improved livelihoods through strategic linkages’.
As a starting point, Prof. Kabuage and her team carried out an analysis of the efficiency of the indigenous chicken market with the aim of making policy recommendations to strengthen its value chain. A survey, involving all the actors across the chain revealed a number of constraints, the most critical was the small flock per household. Key interventions were identified, particularly implementation of technologies to enhance flock sizes, productivity and quality, capacity building for farmers (and for other actors along the chain). The ICVC team then embarked on implementation of the identified interventions.
Facilitating engagement and uptake
A key element for the success of interventions required both stakeholder collaboration and research dissemination, so that farmers, both commercial and subsistence, were able to make use of the interventions. Co-operation to get baseline and follow-up data was required too.
The survey and data collection from the first phase served as a marketing tool for the project, information fed back to farmers involved them in supporting a second phase. Building on the intervention strategies laid out in the report, the team secured further funding. More farmers will undergo training on various technologies for production and marketing. Key areas to be covered include feed formulation and mixing, flock management, breeding and brooding management and IC housing improvement using the model houses. In addition efforts will also be spent on linking farmers to markets and to IC service providers to ensure continuity after the close of the project.
old chicken house
Activities in the second phase have included:
Improved housing and flock management: Three indigenous chicken model houses have been constructed in Makueni County, at Wote and Salama study sites. Farmers have been trained on proper housing, bio-security and poultry health using the model house at Salama site. As a result, many farmers have improved their IC structures.
Improved feeding: Project farmers have been trained on feeding their flocks with balanced feed supplements, formulated and mixed on-farm at the Wote site. The training used feed ingredients such as sorghum grown by the farmers. Planting seeds for both sorghum and sunflower, and fertilizer were distributed to the farmers to plant for feed production.
Farmer training: The project has trained farmers on: flock management, breeding and brooding practices, disease and parasite control. Also, Indigenous Chickenhousing, bio-security and chicken feed production.
model chicken house
Building Researcher Capacity
An added benefit is that post-graduate students became skilled in conducting Indigenous Chicken marketing surveys; biosafety trials and lab analysis of feed and carcass samples. A total of eight graduate students have benefitted from Professor Kabuage’s project thus far.
Keeping up to date
The Division of Research, Innovation and Outreach, Kenyatta University, keeps all interested parties, including the public, up to date with its research projects on its website. You can read more about this story here, as well as other stories here.
Tindi S. Violet is the Administrator of the Division of Research, Innovation and Outreach Unit at Kenyatta University