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Scope and Space for small scale poultry production in developing countries

Vinod Ahuja () and Sen Arindam

No WP2007-12-02, IIMA Working Papers from Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department

Abstract: In recent years there has been growing recognition among the development community of the role of small scale commercial poultry production in accelerating the pace of poverty reduction and reaching out to the poorest of the poor. There is also growing evidence to demonstrate the role of small scale poultry in enhancing the food and nutrition security of the poorest households and in the promotion of gender equality. At the same time, the market and production context of poultry production has been changing rapidly over the last two decades. Rapid economic growth and urbanization in developing countries has resulted in fast expansion of industrial large scale, vertically integrated, poultry production units, specially in Asia. Opportunities have also expanded for small scale poultry enterprises due to improved market access infrastructure and a preference structure that might still favour free range birds and eggs. As a result, there has been increased market orientation even among small scale poultry enterprises. These changes have brought large and small production systems in overlapping competitive space which has created both challenges and opportunities. These changes have raised concerns about the sustainability of small scale poultry production systems due to (i) intensified competition from large scale producers who can exercise significant control over the poultry value chain (including concentrated holding of genetic stock of industrial poultry by a few multinational corporations), and (ii) the public perception that small units of production may be dangerous reservoirs of diseases, specially in the wake of recent outbreaks of HPAI. In the light of that background, this paper attempts to summarize the nature of small scale poultry production across nations and brings together some evidence on the viability of small scale poultry production in the wake of expanding large scale production systems with substantial economies of scale, well organized and integrated supply chains and the ability to respond to various types of risks. The paper argues that the main challenge for small-scale/rural poultry is organizational, not technical. Based on a review of available evidence, the paper concludes that it is important to continue to promote village poultry to contribute towards household nutrition security and livelihood support but concerted efforts must be made to find organizational solutions to minimize public health risks and provide appropriate extension support on issues like disease prevention, predation, improving hatchability, etc. Unfortunately most government extension programs in the developing countries are not oriented towards addressing the needs of poor households. While some private sector organizations (such as Kegg Farm in India) have invested significantly towards developing fast growing and more productive birds without requiring significant additional inputs, and have also made sufficient investment for developing the distribution network for birds, extension and public health support systems continue to be the weak point, making them vulnerable to exogenous shocks. This requires a well orchestrated public policy response in support of small scale poultry production.

Date: 2007-12-02
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