Citation of this paper
AsDB Asian Development Bank
DAC Development Assistance Committee
Danida Danish International Development Assistance
EU European Union
HYV High Yielding Variety
IDPM Institute for Development Policy and Management
IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development
IMF International Monetary Fund
NGO Non-Government Organisation
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
PRA Participatory Rapid Assessment
Stimulated by work pioneered in
In conclusion it is noted that for this
concept to remain an important tool in the fight against poverty, it is
necessary to have a reliable tool to document the achieved results and have an
institutional and political environment in which sharing of information is
encouraged. One of the next steps in replication of the concept will be to
institutionalise a paradigm, which encourages processes in which experiences
are accumulated and disseminated. The involved staff must learn from mistakes
and successes and build up a framework that facilitates training, education,
The title of this paper refers to a
smallholder poultry development concept that implies small poultry enterprises
targeting the rural poorest, who can take the first step out of poverty by
using the concept. The concept is based on well-defined principles that can be
used to develop a specific model within a particular area and these principles
constitute the framework of the concept.
The smallholder poultry development concept
has been developed in a unique learning process in
The smallholder poultry concept is in a
process of being institutionalised through networks. The first network that was
created was the International Network for Family Poultry Development supported
by FAO (Sonaiya 2000). With a limited budget, this network has contributed to
information exchange with a focus mainly on African conditions. Later, the
Network for Smallholder Poultry Development (www.poultry.kvl.dk) was established in
The smallholder poultry development concept
is in the process of being adapted in a number of countries such as Burkina Faso,
Benin, Ghana, Eritrea, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Senegal, Vietnam,
Cambodia, Indonesia, and Nicaragua with donor support from Danida, EU, AsDB,
IFAD, and the World Bank. In
The smallholder poultry concept is
currently being tailored to prevailing conditions in other countries than
the target group, must be the poorest segment of the village population
and in particular women;
Empowerment through participation, group dynamics, training and opportunities
to establish small income generating activities;
advantages of village poultry keeping must be sufficient to reduce the cost
per egg produced to be less than that in commercial egg production;
The concept must
comprise an enabling environment, i.e. all input supplies including
micro-credit and services shall be timely available in the village;
encompasses only the poultry component as the first step out of poverty,
but the possibilities and the opportunities for the beneficiaries to take the
next step must be built into the enabling environment;
Visions to disseminate the concept countrywide and establish the required
attainment of institutional self-sufficiency that is consistent with the
overriding goal of poverty alleviation.
The rationales behind these essentials are:
A daily income of the value of one egg
can have a substantial influence on a very poor family’s livelihood while the
impact on a better off family will be minimal. Furthermore, experience shows
that the entire family benefits more from an income belonging to a woman than
an income belonging to a man (Sen 1999).
The poorest segment of the village is often
invisible and do not participate in the community’s activities. Furthermore,
they are afraid of taking loans due to the involved risks. They have to go
through an empowerment programme before they can comprehend the consequences of
taking a loan and invest in income generating activities.
The smallholders cannot compete with the
commercial sector on productivity, i.e. egg yield per hen, because the same
management skills and the same production facilities are not available in the
village. They can only compete on the input costs by taking advantage of the
feed available free of cost in the surroundings, namely the scavenging feed resource
base and other comparative advantages.
The smallholders are shifting from a no input/low output
system to a small input/higher output system. The latter implies a risk
both on input cost and on investment. In order to minimise these risks it is
important that inputs such as feed, improved quality of chickens, vaccine,
medicine and services such as veterinary services, extension services and
access to micro-credit are available within the village, when required.
The poultry activity is to be considered as a learning process for
the beneficiaries, but it has to be realised that one activity alone is not
sufficient to lift a family out of poverty (Todd 1999; Dolberg 2001). The opportunities (the enabling environment) must be
available and make it possible for the beneficiaries to establish a small
poultry enterprise, to minimise the risks and to take the next step out of
poverty by taking a new loan to another income generating activity.
components of the concept are simple, but the adaptation process, establishment
of an implementing organisation and maintaining the enabling environment are
complicated and costly. To commence this process can only be justified if the
vision is to develop a model for a specific country and subsequently develop
the institutional capacity for countrywide dissemination.
The poorest women and their families in the
villages with financial services and support to establish and maintain small
income generating activities require a large amount of funds. The only
realistic sources are donor funds, but these will only be available for a
limited period to a specific project. Consequently, the concept must be based
on donor support to establish the institutional capacity in a specific area to
reach sufficient numbers of beneficiaries, and after that, the beneficiaries’
contribution shall be sufficient to cover the institutional operation cost. In
this respect, it is important that from the very beginning no subsidies are
involved at beneficiary level.
More than a billion people live in extreme
poverty (on less than US$ 1 a day) and the pressing question is how can
development assistance be used most effective to reduce global poverty?
The Development Assistance Committee (DAC)
of OECD is the principle strategy setting institution of the major bilateral
donors. Some strategies are outlined in DAC’s publication Shaping the 21st
century: The role of Development Cooperation (World Bank 1998, pp. 9-14). Some of the goals set forth by the
donor community are:
Reducing by half the proportions of people living in extreme poverty by 2015;
toward equality of the sexes and the empowerment of women by eliminating
disparities in primary and secondary
education by 2005;
national strategies for sustainable development in all countries by 2005 to
ensure losses of environmental resources are reversed both nationally and
globally by 2015.
These goals point to a different role for
aid, which is more about supporting good institutions and policies than
providing capital. Money is important, of course, but effective aid should
bring a package of finance and ideas - and one of the keys is finding the right
combination of the two to address different situations and problems (World
Bank 1998, p. 13).
Eradication of poverty has priority on the
development agenda and it is realised that money alone is not enough; new ideas
and new concepts have to be developed and implemented. To reach the target set
by DAC, approximately 50 million people must every year be lifted above the
poverty line from now till 2015. Furthermore, institutional development, with
emphasis on health (WHO 2001) and education (Sen 1999) needs to be improved.
The smallholder poultry concept developed
The strategy is to develop a model by
running a pilot programme in a given area, but with a vision to apply it
countrywide. It is therefore important from the very beginning to have a
conception of the end-of-project-situation and to incorporate the idea in the
poverty reduction strategy paper. Focus should be on creating an enabling
environment, selection of potential beneficiaries and formation of community
groups, empowerment and on capacity building.
An enabling environment means access to
credit and to all inputs and services required to minimise the risks in
investment in income generating activities. It means that things needed are
available in time within the local environment from the perspective of those
that need them. Before the introduction of structural adjustments, state or
heavily subsidized cooperative marketing boards were significant components of
such an enabling environment in most developing countries or government departments
were deeply involved in providing these services. At the present time the
emphasis in development is on democracy and human rights with the associated
organisational freedom and space for civil society. Such freedom and space will
permit the establishment of organisations - NGOs - that cater to the needs of
the poor as it is seen in
The main elements in the enabling
environment for the smallholder poultry model are to allow for the
establishment of institutions that work to ensure:
1. access to poultry production and health services;
2. access to feed;
3. access to improved hens;
4. access to credit;
Marketing is normally not a problem for the
poorer segment of the village population; on the contrary, the problem is that the poor do not have a marketing problem - they
have nothing to sell. However, if the production of eggs and chickens is to
exceed the demand within the village, then marketing will be one of the
activities constituting an enabling environment.
Establishing an enabling environment must
be an integral part of a project. However, when established, the operating and
maintaining of the activities constituting the enabling environment must be a
pure business operation with full cost recovery.
Experiences show that the poor are
creditworthy, can manage a loan and make rational investments if they get the
opportunity and if they can comprehend the consequences. However, experiences
also show that it is a difficult process to reach a level where the poor can
comprehend the consequences and are willing to take the risk to invest in an
income generating activity. It is always a risk to take a loan.
Establishment of community groups, composed
of people of socially equal status, seems to be a valuable tool in empowering
the poor. In the group they support each other, they become aware of their own
strengths and rights, and they are informed about their possibilities to work
themselves and their families out of poverty.
The process of establishing community
groups and facilitating group support is not easy; it is time consuming and
requires commitments. However, the empowerment process, which the group
experiences, is an important element in teaching the group to make full use of
the enabling environment and reverse the poverty spiral.
A village group, composed of members of
socially equal status, is an excellent entity to disseminate improved
technology, a cost-effective entity to disseminate extension messages, and a
secure entity for disbursement of loans.
In the early phase, it is important to have
a vision of the end-of-project situation and to see the project in a bird’s eye
perspective with one eye, while at the same time with the other eye try to
apply the perspective of the poor at the grassroots level.
All stakeholders must be involved in the
pilot phase and the implementation set-up must be a mirror of the organisation
to be responsible for the wider application of the concept.
Human resource development is often the
most important activity in the pilot phase as well as in the dissemination
The main opportunity is development of an
effective tool for poverty alleviation. In
However, to return to the main theme of the
paper, other groups than the direct target group can benefit from the
1. the enabling environment gives all the villagers access to poultry farm input supplies and services;
2. the concept pave the way for disbursement of micro-credit in a cost-effective way;
3. the village groups will facilitate easier formation of associations through formalised village livestock groups;
4. the concept helps people acquire the skills that are required for a business set-up to distribute input supplies to the villages;
5. the concept can form the basis for a marketing organisation for farm products;
6. the established beneficiary groups can be used by other NGOs, having the same target groups, to implement other activities, such as informal education for drop-out children from primary schools, extension activities, family planning, HIV/Aids prevention, etc.
In short, the initiatives will add to the social capital of the people (Dowla 2001; Karlan 2002).
The OECD and some politicians in donor and
recipient countries have a vision and a strategy for poverty reduction.
However, the development community, i.e. the technicians, professionals,
researchers, and development workers must also have a vision to develop
sustainable concepts ready for countrywide replication. The smallholder poultry
development concept is a unique, but unfortunately rare example of such a concept,
but it will need to be adjusted continuously on the basis of new experiences to
develop a replicable model.
In September 1999, the World Bank Group and
IMF decided that nationally owned participatory poverty reduction strategies
should provide the basis for all their concession lending and debt relief,
which has led to the development of poverty reduction strategy papers (www.worldbank.org/poverty/strategies).
These papers cover six core principles underlying the development and
implementation of poverty reduction strategies. The strategies should be:
· country-driven, involving broad based participation by civil society and the private sector in all operational steps;
· result-oriented, and focused on outcomes that will benefit the poor;
· comprehensive in recognising the multidimensional nature of poverty, but also
· prioritise so that the implementation is feasible, in both fiscal and institutional terms;
· partnership-oriented, involving coordinated participation of development partners (bilateral, multilateral, and non-governmental);
based on a long-term
perspective for poverty reduction.
Nicolas Stern (2002), Senior Vice President
and Chief Economist of the World Bank builds the strategy for ‘pro-poor growth’
on two pillars:
1. Creation of a good investment climate; and
2. Empowerment and invest in poor people.
The first of those pillars is encompassed
in Essentials (see section 2)
3,4 and 5 and the second pillar is encompassed in Essentials
1 and 2.
The poultry smallholder concept is tailored
to these core principles. Also, the seven essentials defined in the beginning
of the paper are in full accordance with these principles.
Practical experiences with adaptation and
replication of the smallholder poultry concept are still rare. However, lessons
from the first phases of the process are available and some generalisations are
possible. The critical point is still how to operationalise an adapted model,
and how it can be replicated for wider dissemination.
2. development of a specific model through field trails;
3. full scale test, pilot programme;
4. modality development.
Experiences have shown that it is essential
to have a facilitator with in-depth expertise in the philosophy of the
smallholder concept to guide the adaptation process; otherwise the process may
easily be trapped in some of the constraints mentioned below.
Awareness is a key word in adaptation of
the concept. Prejudice with respect to the capability of the target group is a
common attitude among stakeholders and that goes from people high up in
government to the village community. An awareness programme must therefore
target all potential stakeholders, from the government level to the village
community. The awareness process goes through a number of stages:
1. selection of a core group of staff to be responsible for the awareness programme;
2. deployment of a facilitator;
exposure to the
4. PRA analysis in a selected pilot area;
5. discussions and workshops;
selection of a
task force to be responsible for implementation of a pilot project.
Constraints, which have to be addressed and
that are related to the first step in the adaptation process, are:
It may be a wrong strategy to call the
concept a smallholder poultry model because it is a general
misunderstanding to relate the objectives of the concept to poultry production,
e.g. egg production instead of relating the objectives to poverty
alleviation. This was also the case in
The objective of applying the concept is
poverty alleviation; poultry is only an instrument in the process of reversing
the poverty spiral. It is important that this objective is clear and understood
by the stakeholders at the outset in order to prioritise the socio-economic
disciplines in the project formulation.
It is surprising so many organisations and
individuals that have a policy to target the poorest, but either on purpose or
in reality exclude the poorest segment of the population from their activities.
Common phrases are: the poorest do not have the capability to learn, the poorest
are lazy, the poorest have chosen to live in poverty, or it is better to start
with the better off and then the poor will benefit through a trickle-down
effect - an approach, which has been rejected long ago.
The truth is that it is troublesome to have
the poorest as the target group. It demands a lot of work and commitment and
the project staff do not have the experience to work with the poor. However,
the example from
The results from two full-scale test
villages have been promising. In one of the villages there was only one family
out of 55 potential families that did not contribute with savings and
participation in group activities. In the other village, there were only three
families out of 35 that did not want to participate or contribute.
At first sight, the smallholder poultry
concept is a very simple concept and an obvious entry tool for poverty
alleviation programmes. It seems to be a common mistake, however, to think that
it is easy to adapt the concept to different conditions. It is not just a
simple matter of establishing a production system with, for instance a chicken
rearer and a number of smallholder key rearers and organise a vaccination
programme. Socio-economic parameters are often an overseen element and repeatedly
it is completely neglected that the target groups are the poorest segment of
the village populations. Another critical end neglected aspect is
sustainability; the enabling environment must be maintained on pure business
conditions. That is of utmost importance.
Even though the components constituting the
concept may all be simple, it must be realised that the interaction
between the components is a complicated matter. Furthermore, the target group
is one of the essentials of the concept and to approach this group is far from
being a simple matter.
The capability or availability of
institutions/organisations to develop and implement it countrywide in a
specific country may be the most serious constraint. Very few institutions have
in reality experiences and skills to target the poorest segment of the village
population. Furthermore, it requires a high degree of effectiveness of the
implementing institutions to establish and to maintain the enabling environment
at village level in a sustainable way.
A common objection with regard to
replication of the
Preliminary observations indicate that the
majority of the poorest wants to and is able to work themselves out of poverty
if they get the opportunity. This behaviour seems to be independent of cultural
differences and this observation is also supported by experiences from
replication of the Grameen Bank concept. Amartya Sen, in his book Development
as Freedom (1999) describes similarities in the behaviour of the very poor
in his capability approach to poverty alleviation.
This does not imply that cultural
differences are of minor importance, but only that target group response when
exposed to the concept is very similar. The approach to organise and implement
the concept has to be adapted to the prevailing conditions in a specific
country and that is a complicated process.
In general, there is very limited knowledge
about rural poultry production among villagers and extension staff, and it is
important that facilitators in a model development are aware of that. Another
important aspect is that the actors must have been exposed, in one way or another,
1. draft model formulation;
2. field test;
3. model adjustment.
The draft model should be kept as simple as
possible and with focus on the smallholder (key rearer). In fact it can be so
simple that the model is composed of only the smallholder, based on local hens,
and the supply and service activities. In
The field test must focus on simple
technical aspects, but encompass protection, vaccination and supplementation.
The basket system (chickens kept under a basket the first weeks of life) has
proven to give a good protection, but the techniques have to be learned.
Vaccination is an essential part of the field test, and the test will often
reveal that vaccination against
The first field test may need some
adjustment both regarding the components and regarding the technical aspects.
Design of a full-scale test depends on the actual institutional structure of the involved agencies such as government, NGOs, and micro-credit providers. It also depends on the capability of the involved institutions. There are four important elements in the design of a test:
1. the villagers must experience the test as if an ideal institutional set up is in place and no subsidies shall be given to the beneficiaries;
2. all test activities at village level must mirror an end-of-project situation;
3. all potential stakeholders must actively participate both in design and in implementation of the test;
4. a strategy for all activities must be set up to simulate an end-of-project situation.
It shall be stressed that the villages
selected for the full-scale test must be different from those selected for the
field test. The villagers in the latter are ‘spoiled’ by free goods and will
expect the same in the next test.
The strategy is of course that a programme
for wider dissemination of the model must succeed the full-scale test. It is
also obvious that such a programme requires donor support and involvement of a
number of stakeholders, government, NGOs, private sector, village authorities
and the beneficiaries themselves. The modalities for the next phase are
essential elements in the full-scale test and the modalities must include:
1. specification of stakeholder responsibilities;
2. specification of activities, especially those involving donor or government support;
3. cost estimate of each activity;
4. supervision and monitor system including indicators.
The objectives are to develop an
implementing organisation involving the government, NGOs, private sector and
support institutions and organisations, and to develop a strategy for
countrywide dissemination of the model.
A paradigm in this context means: 1) a
framework concept comprising a set of mutually supporting activities, 2) a set
of values expressing or clarifying the impact of the framework activities on
poverty alleviation, and 3) methods to continuously improve and disseminate the
concept and knowledge related hereto (Jensen 2000). This paradigm is in many
ways inspired from Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
It is important to be aware of the circular
aspect of the approach in the paradigm and not, as is often applied, the linear
approach. This means that impact has to be measured against socio-economic
parameters related to poverty and not against production parameters related to
Accessibility to information and
experiences is troublesome with a very limited number of textbooks, databases,
journals, or other media in which results and findings are published, and no
training institutions directly targeting the concept. However, there has in
this respect been progress in the past five years. The World-Wide Web has been
an important media for dissemination, institutional networks have been
established, and curriculum has been developed and applied in all levels of
education and training.
The challenge is to continue and to refine
this process. Poverty alleviation is complicated and especially in the case
where the target group is the poorest segment of the village population. It is
also naive to believe that it can be done without a substantial donor support.
However, knowledge and cooperation is of equal importance.
The smallholder poultry concept is an
important tool in the fight against poverty, but the objectives can only be
accomplished if we have an effective instrument to share information and a
reliable tool to document the replication ability and achieved results. One of
the next steps will be to institutionalise a paradigm in which experiences are
accumulated and disseminated, a paradigm which is adjusted according to
mistakes and successes, and a paradigm which has a framework that facilitates
training, education, and research.
Ahmed N 2000
The Smallholder Poultry Model in
Ahamed N 2002 Components of
Alam J 1997 Impact of Smallholder Livestock
Development Project in some selected areas of rural
Amber J 2000 Guide for Training of Trainers. Participatory Livestock
Dolberg F 2001 A Livestock Development Approach that Contributes to Poverty Alleviation and Widespread Improvement of Nutrition Among the Poor. Livestock Research for Rural Development: http://www.cipav.org.co/lrrd/lrrd13/5/dolb135.htm
Dolberg F, Mallorie E and Nigel B 2002
Evolution of the Poultry Model – a Pathway out of Poverty. People Fight Poverty
with Poultry: Workshop held in
Dowla A 2001 In Credit We Trust: Building Social Capital by Grameen Bank in
Fattah K A 2000 Poultry as a Tool in Poverty Eradication and Promotion of Gender Equality. In: F Dolberg and P H Petersen (eds.) Poultry as a Tool in Poverty Eradication and Promotion of Gender Equality Proceedings of a workshop, March 22-26, 1999, Tune Landboskole, Denmark. http://www.husdyr.kvl.dk/htm/php/tune99/2-Fattah.htm
Jensen H Askov
1996 Semi-Scavenging Model for Rural Poultry Holding.
In: Proceedings of XX World’s Poultry
Jensen H Askov 2000 Paradigm and Visions: Network for Poultry Production in Developing Countries. In: F Dolberg and P H Petersen (eds.) Poultry as a Tool in Poverty Eradication and Promotion of Gender Equality Proceedings of a workshop, March 22-26, 1999, Tune Landboskole, Denmark. http://www.husdyr.kvl.dk/htm/php/tune99/3-AJensen.htm
Jensen H Askov 2002
Essentials and Constraints: Adaptation of the
Bangladeshi Smallholder Poultry Concept. Workshop held
Jensen H Askov and F Dolberg 2002 A conceptual Framework for Using Poultry as a Tool in Poverty Alleviation. FAO: Second Electronic Conference on Family Poultry. http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/e-conf/poultry/default.htm
Jensen H Askov 2000
Structures for Improving Smallholder Chicken Production in
Jere J 2001 Background to the Development of the
Jere J and Jensen H
Karlan D S 2002 Social Capital and Group Banking. Downloaded from http://www.bu.edu/econ/ied/neudc/papers/Karlan-final.pdf
Kuhn T S 1995 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The
Nielsen H 1997 Socio-Economic Impact of
Smallholder Livestock Development
Nielsen H 2000 Food Intake and Nutrient Intake among
Females in Rural
Rahman H Zillur and
Hossain M (eds.) 1995 Rethinking
Rahman M, Sorensen P, Jensen H Askov and
Dolberg F 1997 Exotic Hens under Semi-Scavenging Conditions in
Saleque A 2000 Scaling-up: The BRAC Poultry
Saleque A 2002
Poultry as a Tool in Poverty
Alleviation – Experiences of BRAC in implementing the model. Workshop held in
Saleque A and Mustafa S 1997 Landless Women
and Poultry. The BRAC model in
Sen A 1999 Development as Freedom.
Sonaiya E B 2000 International Network for
Family Poultry Development: Origins, Activities, Objectives and Visions. In: F.
Dolberg and P. H. Petersen (eds.) Poultry
as a Tool in Poverty Eradication and Promotion of Gender Equality.
Proceedings of a workshop,
Sonaiya E B, Permin
G and Riise J C 2002 Using Poultry As a Tool in
Poverty Alleviation. Workshop held in
Stern N Dynamic Development: Innovation and Inclusion. Downloaded from; http://econ.worldbank.org/view.php?id=2204
Todd H 1999 Women Climbing out of Poverty
through Credit; or what do Cows have to do with it? In: F. Dolberg and P. H.
Petersen (eds.) Women in Agriculture
and Modern Communication Technology. Proceedings of a workshop, March
Macroeconomics and Health: Investing in Health for Economic Development.
Report of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, chaired by Jeffrey D.
Sachs. World Health Organization,
World Bank 1998 Assessing Aid. What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why. Oxford University Press or at http://www.worldbank.org/research/aid/aidtoc.htm
World Bank 1999 www.worldbank.org/poverty/strategies
(1) Earlier versions of this paper were presented at FAO: Second
Electronic Conference on Family Poultry: Theoretical framework and experiences
in rural poultry development in May 2002. http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/e-conf/poultry/default.htm
and the International Conference on Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and
Received 6 June 2003; Accepted 10 June 2003
Go to top