Evaluation of smallholder poultry production and its contribution to household income and nutrition in Kiambu west district, Kenya
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This study aimed at assessing the contribution of smallholder poultry production and its complimentarity to crops and livestock enterprises in two contrasting agro-ecological zones in Kiambu West District, Kenya. The study had three objectives namely: (i) to establish the scale, types and production systems of poultry kept; (ii) to determine the contribution of poultry farming to household income and food supply and (iii) to assess the contribution of poultry to livestock and crop enterprises. Kiambu West district has an area of 9822 km out of which 65% is arable. It is composed of four administrative divisions namely, Limuru, Lari, Ndeiya and Kikuyu. The area was selected for the study because of the following reasons: (i) it borders Nairobi Metropolitan area which is an important egg and poultry market; (ii) it has a long history of smallholder poultry production; (iii) it has a wide range of agro-ecological zones and land use systems and (iv) small land holdings. Limuru and Ndeiya divisions were chosen for this study. Ndeiya has the highest poverty level and the lowest population density in the district. In contrast, Limuru division is well endowed with rainfall and there is production of high value crops such as tea and pyrethrum. Based on agricultural productivity, Limuru is most endowed while Ndeiya is least endowed. For this reason, poultry production in the two extremes was investigated. Forty-eight and 36 households in Limuru and Ndeiya, respectively were purposively selected. The households were further stratified into those keeping less than 500, those keeping more than 500 commercial chickens and those keeping indigenous chickens only. Qualitative data was captured using a questionnaire which was administered to the selected households. Focus group interviews and in-depth interviews with key informants were used to obtain supplementary data on the state of the poultry industry and the problems facing the sector. Data collected was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) version 12.0. A comparison was made between farmers keeping local poultry, those keeping less than five hundred and those keeping more than five hundred commercial chickens. The production systems identified in the study area were; the landless monogastric systems where feed is introduced from outside the farm and the intermediary or semi-intensive systems also referred to as backyard poultry. The indigenous chickens were produced at small scale (4 to 30 birds per household). Chickens for commercial egg production were raised in flock sizes of 200 to 2,300 birds per household. The results of the study showed that the income from poultry and eggs sales for the exotic chickens' categories contributed significantly to the household incomes in both divisions at 5% level of significance. Poultry also contributed significantly to household nutrition by directly providing animal protein and also improving the purchasing power of the households to be able to grow enough food or purchase food from the market. The local poultry eggs and meat contribution to animal protein intakes was 29.6 % in Limuru and 39.3% in Ndeiya division. Poultry manure was used as a supplement in dairy cattle production and complemented crop production. The farmers did not seem to take into account any hazards that may be associated with feeding poultry manure to dairy cattle. The conclusions from this study are: (i) Most of the farmers keeping poultry (59.3%) were 50 years and above; (ii) poultry contributed significantly to household income; (iii) poultry also contributed significantly to household nutrition by providing animal protein and improving the food crop production and purchasing power of the households; (iv) poultry manure was used as a feed supplement in dairy cattle production and fertilizer in crop production and (v) income from the poultry enterprise was used to pay for inputs used in crop and dairy production. The net effect of keeping poultry was improving the welfare of the households through increased income and better nutrition. The recommendation arising from this study are: (i) A more detailed study is required to assess the contribution of poultry in meeting household nutritional requirements and (ii) there is need to look at ways to improve the quality and cost of poultry feeds, marketing and delivery of extension services through appropriate policies.