Sustainable smallholder poultry interventions to promote food security and social, agricultural, and ecological resilience in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia


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.

Dumas, S.E., Lungu, L., Mulambya, N. et al. Food Sec. (2016) 8: 507.