Smallholder poultry development: protein for today - and tomorrow
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CTA. 1991. Smallholder poultry development: protein for today - and tomorrow . Spore 31. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45432
International Seminar in Thessaloniki, Greece, in October 1990.
There are millions of chickens in Africa, and there are ducks, geese and guinea fowl too. Perhaps as many as 80% are owned by rural families in flock sizes of maybe only five or six birds. High input, high output poultry development projects, based on European models, have largely failed in the past. Why, then, interfere with what seems to be working satisfactorily? Poultry provide a readily available source of animal protein, in the form of meat and eggs, and yet the protein deficiency gap of Africa's citizens is still widening. To provide a forum for discussing ways of improving poultry productivity, and thereby family nutrition, CTA organized an International Seminar in Thessaloniki, Greece, in October 1990. Fifty delegates representing 21 African countries (anglophone and francophone), European scientific research establishments, national administrations and international funding organizations, met to exchange practical experience and to formulate the best strategy for achieving Africa's potential in this field. Reducing the mortality rate The main obstacle to progress is the high mortality rate due to diseases, particularly Newcastle Disease (up to 90% in Zaire) and the first step must be to improve on-farm management to reduce these heavy losses. Conventional vaccination, requiring refrigeration, is difficult in rural areas so delegates agreed that not only should thermostable, combined vaccines in pellet form be developed but that traditional remedies for disease should also be studied. There is no point introducing new, more productive, more expensive breeds if the chances are that the birds are going to die. Schemes where several local cockerels are exchanged for one exotic bird have failed because the chances are very high that the exotic bird will die, leaving the farmer with no cockerel at all. With several local cockerels, at least one is likely to survive. Indigenous breeds also show high disease resistance and better adaptation to harsh conditions and climate than imported exotics. They have lower bodyweight and longer legs. This means they need less food and can go-further into the scrub searching for it. Their chicks are black or mottled and are therefore less easy prey for hawks than the white chicks of most imported birds. Also the broodiness of local chickens is greater and must be preserved, at least until African farmers can afford incubators. These important characteristics should not be lost in the desire for increased productivity. Delegates felt that the study of the ability of some birds to eat high fibre food was particularly important since this reduces competition with people, and with pigs, for available cereals. Unconventional feedstuffs In order to further reduce this competition, the participants at the Seminar agreed that a collection and compilation of feedstuffs and an assessment of their nutritive value should be undertaken. Sources of unconventional feeds of no use in human nutrition yet ideal for poultry, were reported by many delegates. For instance, in Uganda, the freshwater lakes provide a source for fishmeal as do the waste products of the fish smokehouses of Cote d'lvoire. Brewers' grains, a by-product of the beer industry, are an excellent food source as is palm oil sludge. Cottonseed cake, providing it is fed in the correct proportion and at the right time, can also be used. Ensuring that such information is widely available was seen as one of the major development tasks for the future. One of the problems identified at the Seminar was that African scientists found exchange of information with European countries easier than with their African neighbours. Yet it is between countries that experience similar conditions that dialogue is likely to prove most valuable. Interdisciplinary research Delegates agreed that the need for an African Network on Rural Poultry Development was clear, not to replace existing organizations but rather to assist links between African and European institutions. The Network should be responsible for the documentation of results and dissemination of information; for the coordination of training programmes for research and development personnel; for the development of research and development protocols; and for the identification of research and development priorities, funding sources and cooperation opportunities. Above all it was stressed that research programmes should be interdisciplinary, covering all aspects of poultry production, with particular emphasis on adaptive on-farm research methods, in order to promote rural food security, stability of the rural labour force and to provide much needed additional family income.