Rain-fed agriculture has traditionally been the core of livelihoods for poor families in rural Jharkhand, supplemented in varying degrees by small livestock rearing, handicrafts, wages and hunting and gathering. Improving a agricultural productivity and more generally the productivity of primary rural resources is, therefore, essential to enhance rural livelihoods. Agriculture, however, has inherent limits as a livelihood for land-less people and marginal farmers; it offers only fragile livelihoods to farmers in agro-ecologically marginal or vulnerable regions; further declining farm sizes due to population growth further limits the livelihood potential of agriculture. Thus, beyond increasing agriculture productivity, the challenge therefore is to develop livelihood opportunities based on rural enterprises that do not depend on land, supplement agricultural income, offset its uncertainty and exploit the growing demand for new products, especially in urban centers.

Poultry: The Big Opportunity

By 2020 it is estimated that poultry would account for the largest portion of the livestock output, which would be more than 50 % of the total global agricultural output in financial terms. In India also livestock accounted for about 32 % of the total value of agricultural output with poultry contributing a major share. While the production of agricultural crops has been rising at a rate of 1.5-2 % per annum that of eggs and broilers has been rising at a rate of 8-10 % per annum. The increasing demand for livestock (protein) products is driven by sustained economic growth and rising incomes. In addition, the income elasticity of demand for meat products is high. Meat consumption has increased by over 80% between 1983 and 2000. The greatest increases (in percentage terms) have occurred in poultry. In 1981, the production of poultry meat was 0.12 million tons which at present is 2.2 million tons. The per capita consumption of poultry meat in 1970 was 146 gm and at present it is 1.6 kilogram.

The Small Holder Poultry Prototype:

The prototype attempts to adapt the complex production technology in a small farmer’s context at the same time achieve economies of scale through collective procurement of inputs and marketing of produce. The essential elements of the small-holder poultry prototype are.

1)    Decentralized production infrastructure of 300-500 birds in the backyard of the family there-by fitting it into their daily life.

2)    Ensuring production efficiency with rigorous training of producers, intensive production support and quality on-call referral veterinary services.

3)    Cost effectiveness with collective procurement of inputs and sale of birds to achieve economies of scale and backward and forward integration.

4)    Creation of a system to address the volatile nature of market by de-linking production efficiency from enterprise efficiency and collectivization of operations involving market interface.

5)    Customized financial and MIS software for decentralized operations.

6)    Growing charges fashioned to create incentive for efficiency and para-vet charges linked to production parameters.

7)    Capacity building to facilitate transition from wage earner to entrepreneur.

8)    Participatory assessment of business performance and internalization of best practices at the individual producer level.

Small Holder Broiler Farming Model

The Institutional model:

The members from different Self-Help Groups (SHGs) promoted by PRADAN, organised themselves into co-operative societies for smooth transaction of input, output and services for broiler farming. The co-operative societies have been registered under Jharkhand Self-supporting co-operative act 1996. The co-operative societies further organized into a state level federation which has been registered under the same act. The federations have further been organized into a national level organization called National Small-holder Poultry development Trust (NSPDT) which host business verticals for quality supply of inputs to members. The model has been displayed as below:

A Broiler Farmer: The Family Context

A typical broiler farmer of the collective is a rural woman from disadvantaged communities, hitherto, dependent for their sustenance on rain fed agriculture and wage earning. Today through systematic  intervention at all the enterprise stages she has gathered skills, infrastructure, inputs and marketing arrangements for a successful home based broiler poultry unit. The minimum she requires is one cent of land (435 square-feet), either owned by her or taken on lease. She earns between Rs.12, 000-25,000 a year which works out to Rs. 60-125 a day for her 200 days of engagement. This income, available to her in a regular stream of cash flows on a continuous basis, helps her to meet the need of cash expenses and also of capital formation in the family. This income strengthens the woman to negotiate a better deal for herself within her family and the larger society. Income from the activity equivalent to 200 wage days reduces out migration and helps the family invest on existing resources most notably the arable land – homestead or otherwise; thereby further augmenting the sufficiency in the hitherto deficit household.

The recent Experience of Poultry sector in Jharkhand:

A detailed Market study commissioned by PRADAN in collaboration with the poultry industry in 2002 showed that the whole Jharkhand is a huge deficit market for broiler birds. The daily sales of live bird was estimated to be around 80 Metric tonnes with major consumption centers located in big and smaller towns in the industrial and mining areas. As against the demand, the average daily production in Jharkhand did not exceed more than 12 Metric Tonnes. The huge gap between the demand and supply was met through supply from nearby states like West Bengal, Orissa and Chattisgarh and also from far off Madhya Pradesh. The annual growth of poultry market in Jharkhand was estimated to be around 20% in real terms.

Seeing this immense potential, members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) of Kuru block of Lohardaga with support from PRADAN (Professional Assistance for Development Action, a voluntary organization involved in the promotion of livelihoods for poor rural families), decided to take up poultry activity as a livelihood opportunity.  With women belonging to resource poor families with low risk taking ability, PRADAN thought it prudent to try out the idea of small scale poultry units with each producer rearing not more than 300 poultry birds per cycle. Efforts made towards collectivising small poultry growers in a cluster yielded very positive results in terms of helping the producers in reaching scale of economy and to gain bargaining power to negotiate with the market on fairer terms. This mechanism was institutionalised through establishment of Poultry Producers’ Cooperative involving all the producer women into its folds.

The first Cooperative was registered in November 2002 in Lohardaga. Subsequently, in a short span of time, 4 more Cooperatives were established in the districts of Gumla, Lohardaga, East Singbhum and Ranchi (presently Khunti). Such an endeavour initially received favour from the Department of Cooperation, Govt. of Jharkhand that offered financial support to 400 poultry producers through their Cooperatives.

This initiative has further expanded in recent years to cover 4386 poor rural women, who find year-round income opportunities in broiler poultry farming. The aggregated production of all the members in the last financial year amounted to 10834 metric tonnes of live birds (or an average of 20 MT per day) to gain nearly 20% share of the overall Jharkhand market. Most remarkably, all the co-operatives demonstrated their resilience to withstand the shock of bird flu scare and could retain all the producers in the business. The net profit received by the producers in the last year itself amounted to Rs. 790 lakh.

The major success of the initiative lies in the standardization of the Small Holder model of Poultry Units that offers enormous scope for further expansion of the activity to benefit large number of poor rural women in Jharkhand.

Poultry Federation in Jharkhand:

Jharkhand Womens’ Poultry Self-Supporting Co-operative Federation Ltd. was registered on    31st March 2005. Department of Co-operation, Govt. of Jharkhand supported the federation with  a  grant of Rs.15 lakh to meet its administrative, overheads and infrastructure costs for 2 years. Presently, the federation has 9 member Co-operatives with operations spread over Lohardaga, Gumla, Khunti, E.Singbhum, Bokaro, Koderma, Godda and Dumka. All the chairpersons of the primary co-operative societies are the governing board members of the federation. The current scale of chick placement in all the cooperatives is to the tune of 6 lakh DoCs (Day old chicks) per month. At this scale, the Federation sustains the largest organized poultry operations in eastern India with 4386 producers members.

The main function of the federation are depicted in the following:

  • Procuring material inputs, specially the kind that are to be procured from outside the state and supply of the same to all the member cooperatives.
  • Supporting member co-operatives in collective marketing of poultry birds
  • Co-ordination among member cooperatives for ensuring strategy coherence and for setting higher efficiency standards.
  • System setting for production management and accounting and periodic review of   operations of all the members.

How to replicate:

Marginalised disadvantaged women who wish to adopt the enterprise take membership of the cooperative societies. The cooperative societies then arrange for loans from the bank or subsidies and grant from government agencies for infrastructure and working capital. The association with the cooperative societies helps in easy access to loans and government subsidies and grants for the activities. It also helps to adopt the entire setting cost effectively, which a small farmer finds difficult if done alone.