Nigeria has the second-largest poultry population in Africa with about 165 to 180 million birds (Sahel, 2015; FAO, 2018). Poultry farming is fragmented across 3 systems in the country: free range or traditional, semi-intensive and commercial; with most birds farmed via the traditional and semi-intensive systems (FAO, 2018; Garba et al., 2013).
Traditional poultry farming, where households keep small flock sizes, about 5 to 20, of the Nigerian local chicken breed, is widespread in Northern Nigeria and is an important means of generating additional income for women in rural communities (Garba et al., 2013). Although poultry farming has potential for profit-making for women, factors such as lack of finance, disease, feed availability, and insufficient extension service or lack of training constrain expansion of the business (Ahmed et al., 2011; Garba et al., 2013).
Propcom Mai-karfi (PM) collaborates with select community-based organisations and veterinary service providers to help women poultry farmers to improve their farming techniques, thus, increase the sizes and health of their flocks. It does this by providing training on improved poultry production and linking poultry farmers to community vaccinators and market.
Sabon Gari in Rano LGA is in Kano State and this is where Rabi Gambo, a 40-year old civil servant lives with her family. Like many women in her community Rabi is involved in other ventures through which she gets additional income for her family; she’s a poultry and soya bean farmer.
In 2017, Rabi, along with other women in her community, was trained on improved poultry techniques for rearing local chicken and supported to start the business by one of PM’s partners.
“We were trained in 2017 by Propcom; they’re the only organisation that has trained us on poultry. In the training we were taught many things to make chickens grow big and healthy; like brooding, separating the hen from chicks, good housing, feeding and how to sell chickens.”
With a seed fund of N500, Rabi bought one hen and started her local chicken business. Rabi said she practised the techniques they’d been taught and was very pleased when her one hen grew into a flock size of 20 chickens, which she sold for up to N1000 each in the open market.
“The training was very useful. I bought one hen at N500 and started practising brooding and the other things they taught us. I was able to get 20 chickens from my hen, which I sold in the market for N1000, N800 or N500. My chickens grew faster and bigger than my neighbours. I use the money to help my family and to support members of my cooperative.”
Unfortunately, over time Rabi said they were unable to access vaccination services as the vaccinator linked to their community was never available or lacked vaccines. They were, thus, unable to vaccinate their birds. Consequently, many of the women lost most or all their birds to diseases during the harmattan season. In her case, Rabi said that she butchered the chickens that had not yet succumbed to illness for meat so as not to lose her investment.
“Whenever we call Aliyu, the vaccinator, to come and vaccinate our birds he either doesn’t come or says he does not have vaccines. So, when harmattan came, our birds got ill and started dying. Most of us had to quickly kill the birds for meat so we don’t lose out completely.”
Despite the loss that was experienced, Rabi was undeterred and determined to continue her local chicken business as she’d seen the potential in it. So, with the other women in her cooperative they identified another vaccinator in their community who would be vaccinating their chickens, so they don’t suffer the same fate.
Rabi is proof that rearing local chickens can be profitable with the right support and where adequate measures are taken to protect the birds. As at the time of collecting Rabi’s story she had begun rearing chickens again and was looking forward to her eggs hatching into healthy birds.
“I am now a mentor in my community. Whenever other women visit me and see how big my chickens are, they ask me to teach them so they too can start. I wish more women will practice brooding so they can grow their flock size and make extra money for their family.”
— Rabi Gambo, local chicken farmer from Kano