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Significance of scavenging chicken production in the rural community of Africa for enhanced food security

World's poultry science journal 2014 v.70 no.3 pp. 593-606
Newcastle disease, animal proteins, breast feeding, business enterprises, chicken meat, chickens, children, cost effectiveness, developing countries, economic investment, eggs, farmers, food security, genetic resources, income, issues and policy, marketing, mortality, nutritional status, peasantry, poultry production, poverty, predation, pregnant women, production technology, risk, rural communities, rural youth, urban areas, vitamins, Africa
The importance of scavenging chicken production in the national economy of developing nations of Africa and its role in improving the nutritional status and income of many smallholder farmers has been recognised by several scholars and policy makers the world around. Scavenging chicken production is a profitable enterprise that contributes to poverty reduction especially among the resource challenged rural communities in most parts of the developing world. It is particularly suitable to smallholder farmers and landless peasants due to low capital investment, high cost efficiency, flexible production systems and low production risks. It has also a symbolic significance within the context of socio-cultural as well as religious functions and economically empowers the rural youth and women. Chicken meat and eggs provide a readily available, high-quality source of proteins, vitamins and micronutrients which are particularly essential for children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. Moreover, meat and egg from scavenging chicken present one of the most environmentally efficient animal protein production systems. The major challenges of the scavenging chicken production in Africa include high chicken mortality due to predation and regular outbreaks of diseases notably Newcastle disease; imbalanced nutrition due to poor quality and quantity of feed materials; lack of organised marketing system and low performance related genetic potentials. The growing demand for scavenging chicken products in urban areas, identification and promotion of ethno-veterinary medicines, developing locally made and appropriate housing structures, selection among the scavenging chickens, organising farmers to increase bargaining power and shortening the marketing chain are considered as the major opportunities for the improvement of scavenging chicken production in Africa. The significance of indigenous chickens for farmers in African countries combined with many consumers’ preference for their eggs and meat suggests that these genetic resources are promising options for food security in the rural communities.