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Indian Women's Lives Improved After 'Chicken's Friend' Training

08 September 2015
FAO

INDIA - Projects in India have improved the access of smallholder poultry and small ruminant farmers to markets and given people opportunities to improve their lives, especially women.

Through the South Asia Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Programme (SAPPLPP), the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) helped strengthen the implementation of sustainable small ruminant and smallholder poultry rearing interventions in two selected districts of India.

The projects overcame major constraints to enable smallholder livestock keepers to collectively access required inputs and benefit from the expanding market for small ruminant products.

A joint initiative between FAO and the National Dairy Development Board of India (NDDB), the field projects were designed as ‘integrated’ interventions linking each stage of the value chain from improving productivity and facilitating access to inputs, to supporting institutions of smallholder rearers to collectively access markets.

The FAO said the projects have improved food security and increased income levels in the two states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Training helps reduce poultry disease losses – the story of Dittu Bai

The village of Sad, in a remote and hilly area of India’s central Madhya Pradesh State, has some 350 homes with backyard poultry as a mainstay of livelihood.

Selling chickens in the local market fetches good money. But waves of poultry deaths caused by viral infections have often left villagers struggling to make ends meet.

Most often Newcastle disease has been the culprit, wiping away entire flocks.

“Chicken mortality was as high as 75 per cent and our 'murgi sakhis', which is a Hindi word that translates as ‘chicken’s friend’ – local women trained in basic veterinarian skills for poultry - have brought it down to around 40 per cent,” said Prem Thakur of Sampark, one of the Indian NGO implementing the FAO-supported project. Things have indeed changed since the murgi sakhis started vaccination and deworming work in 2014.

Dittu Bai Parmar, of the Patelia tribe, is a much sought after murgi sakhi in Sad and neighbouring areas. A secondary school graduate, she underwent a five-day residential training along with 16 other sakhis.

Dittu Bai attributes the fall in poultry mortality mainly to the vaccination and deworming work carried out by the murgi sakhis, and following a few good management protocols. According to her, “Ranikhet”, the local name for Newcastle disease, was the most common cause of bird mortality.

Now if anyone in Sad or neighbouring areas has a sick fowl Dittu Bai is readily available on a mobile phone. The vaccines and medicines generally come from the government’s veterinary hospital.

“When I visit a village for deworming or other treatment I also tell them about the next vaccination dates.” Her rates for vaccination and deworming services are as low as two rupees, a little over US$0.03 per bird.

At the beginning of the project, Dittu Bai was making 1000 rupees (US$16). Now, she earns between 1500 to 2000 rupees (roughly US$25-35) a month.

Not a large sum by city standards but, as she says, “I don’t have to ask the moneylender when it’s time to buy books or school uniforms for the children or for treatment of small ailments.”

Another community ‘vet’, Shruti Bai’s work as a 'murgi sakhi' made her so popular with fellow villagers in Sad that she successfully ran for the local elections, and now leads the village council.

Taking advantage of her poultry rearing technology, her husband bought some 400 chicks of Kadaknath, a rare indigenous breed, and the family made a fortune selling the matured birds in the market.

As for the sakhi women, they have become more economically independent and self sufficient.

ThePoultrySite News Desk





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