Sustainable smallholder poultry interventions to promote food security and social, agricultural, and ecological resilience in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia
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In Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, highly variable rainfall and lack of education, agricultural inputs, and market access constrain agricultural productivity, trapping smallholder farmers in chronic poverty and food insecurity. Human and animal disease (e.g. HIV and Newcastle Disease, respectively), further threaten the resilience of poor families. To cope with various shocks and stressors, many farmers employ short-term coping strategies that threaten ecosystem resilience. Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) utilizes an agribusiness model to alleviate poverty and food insecurity through conservation farming, market development and value-added food production. COMACO promotes household, agricultural and ecological resilience along two strategic lines: improving recovery from shocks (mitigation) and reducing the risk of shock occurrence. Here we focus on two of COMACO’s poultry interventions and present data showing that addressing health and management constraints within the existing village poultry system resulted in significantly improved productivity and profitability. However, once reliable productivity was achieved, farmers preferred to sell chickens rather than eat either the birds or their eggs. Sales of live birds were largely outside the community to avoid price suppression; in contrast, the sale of eggs from community-operated, semi-intensive egg production facilities was invariably within the communities. These facilities resulted in significant increases in both producer income and community consumption of eggs. This intervention therefore has the potential to improve not only producers’ economic resilience, but also resilience tied to the food security and physical health of the entire community.
KeywordsAnimal-source food Conservation farming Food security Poultry Resilience Smallholder farmers
Animal source food
Community Markets for Conservation
We thank Drs. Kim Bothi, Gordon Hickey, Bernard Pelletier, and Andrew Mude for their critical evaluation of the manuscript. We thank the dedicated farmers, volunteers and staff working with COMACO for supporting and participating in this research, particularly Joel Ngumayo, Petronella Simwinga, Peter Banda, and Ruth Nabuyanda. Funding for COMACO has been provided by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Howard Buffett Foundation, Mulago Foundation, Lundin Foundation, CARE International, General Mills, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International, William Lloyd, and Harvey and Heidi Bookman. Research funding was provided by the US Agency for International Development through the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM-CRSP, EPP-A-00-04-00013-00, A.J.T. and D.L.), the National Institutes of Health Graduate Training Program in Comparative Medicine (T32OD011000, PI: John Parker, supporting S.E.D.), Cornell University’s Expanding Horizons program (S.E.D., E.M., E.S., T.L., and K.B.), and Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (S.E.D. and A.J.T.). Technical support and guidance for the community vaccination program was initially provided by Drs. Robyn Alders and Brigitte Bagnol of the Kyeema Foundation’s International Rural Poultry Centre (financially supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the SANREM-CRSP). Special thanks to Dr. Hayley Adams and the Silent Heroes Foundation for continued support of the Newcastle Disease community vaccination program. We note with sadness the passing of Dr. Benjamin Lucio-Martinez, who helped develop the poultry interventions and was not only a source of practical and technical knowledge, but also enthusiasm and caring for both people and poultry.
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