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Title: Improving Participation in Agricultural Commodity Markets: Assessing Growth Opportunities for Women in the Indigenous Chicken Value Chain in Bomet and Mwala Districts
Authors: Kirim, Lilian
Olwande, John
Mathenge, Mary
Oduo, Judith
Mithöfer, Dagmar
Place, Frank
Keywords: Agricultural Commodity Markets
Issue Date: Oct-2013
Publisher: Tegemeo Institute
Abstract: Agricultural growth is expected to lead to broader economic growth and successful poverty reduction, because of high concentration of the poor in this sector, its strong growth linkages with other sectors and its potential to offer low food prices to the urban poor. For agriculture to achieve this broad-based growth, it will require some form of transformation out of the semisubsistence production systems that currently characterize much of rural Africa, to a more commercialized agriculture. However, commercialization depends on location level factors that influence participation at a meso or community scale as well as household level factors that influence participation across households within a given location. It is widely recognized that well-functioning input and product markets provide important opportunities for income generation and wealth creation and are, therefore, key in transforming subsistence production among the smallholder farmers, poor and landless households, as well as those living in marginal areas. However, such markets in developing countries tend to be missing or disorganized. In addition, participation of smallholder farmers and other marginalized groups in markets for inputs, products and services is often constrained by several factors. Hence, it is important to understand the constraints to market participation and the types of interventions that can overcome these constraints in order to unlock opportunities for involvement along a value chain. The aim of this study was to conduct a detailed analysis of the indigenous chicken value chain in order to assess growth opportunities that would improve participation and integration of women to markets. The study builds on findings from an earlier phase carried out as a joint collaboration between Tegemeo Institute, Egerton University, World Agro-forestry centre (ICRAF) and Makerere University on “Participation in Agricultural Commodity Markets among the Poor and Marginalized in Kenya and Uganda” with support from the FORD Foundation. The earlier study identified promising enterprises for the marginalized groups (women, the income poor and those in marginal agricultural areas) based on the importance of market participation in these enterprises for the respective groups and/or growing trends in market participation by the groups relative to other enterprises. With regards to livestock marketing, results showed an increasing importance of chicken among women and the poor. The study concluded that targeting indigenous chicken among other livestock could be important in efforts aimed at ncreasing market participation among women and the poor. However, the earlier study focused on household level data and did not look into other aspects of the enterprises, notably the functioning of markets and value chains. The current study goes further to identify critical challenges and assess growth opportunities in the indigenous chicken value chain, which could be exploited in improving market access and participation by women. ii The study was undertaken in two sites: Mwala Division, in Mwala district, Machakos County and Longisa Division in Bomet district, Bomet County. The study adopted a value chain approach. A sample of 100 households that kept indigenous chicken was selected for the study. Two focus group discussions were held and interviews conducted with two farmer groups in the areas of study and with various actors along the indigenous chicken value chain, as well as key informants such as government officials. Results of the study showed that although indigenous poultry is a common enterprise in the study areas, women were involved only at the lower ends of the value chain i.e., sourcing for breeding stock, production (management of the enterprise), farm-gate sales, and sales in the local markets but to a very limited extent. At the household level, women undertook most of the production activities and in 80 percent of the cases they were responsible for the management of the poultry enterprise. In addition, women were involved in decision-making regarding sale of chicken and use of revenue from sales. In female-headed households, these decisions were predominantly made by women, while in male-headed households joint decision-making by both men and women was more prevalent. Findings indicated that indigenous poultry production is not commercially oriented, with the contribution to household income being minimal. This is mainly due to a weak production node of the chain, which is characterized by small flock sizes reared in a low-input free range production system. Other constraints at the production level include high disease incidence and chicken mortality; high cost of feeds; limited supplementary feeding; predation due to lack of proper housing structures; little or no bargaining power for producers, hence low producer prices; and, high cost of transport to markets. The major constraints identified among traders include: poultry disease outbreaks which affect supply of birds; high transport costs due to poor road infrastructure and long travels; inconsistent and low supplies due to small flock sizes; and lack of capital or affordable credit services to expand business. Despite the aforementioned constraints, there are opportunities which were identified and that have the potential to enhance integration of women into the indigenous chicken value chain. First, there is growing demand and preference for indigenous chicken due to changing dietary habits that are driven by the need to have healthy diets. Smallholders and particularly women could tap into the growing market to increase production and sales. Since women are predominantly found at the production node of the chain, unlocking their potential to participate in markets will necessitate focusing on enhancing production to tap into the growing demand. This will entail putting more investment into management of birds by implementing a semiintensive system of production characterized by appropriate bio-security measures to prevent introduction and spread of diseases; supplementary feeding; and, proper housing to minimize predation. Second, there is support by government and development partners mainly through training and construction of model chicken housing units. The trainings on production and iii marketing of indigenous chicken provide prospects for improving farmer poultry management skills especially on detecting symptoms/signs and prevention methods of the poultry diseases. The Kenya Poultry Farmers Association (KEPOFA) is also actively involved in capacity building for poultry farmers. Also, there is sensitization on supplementary feeds from regular trainings that should help farmers in preparing supplementary poultry feeds using locally available products and hence lead to a reduction in cost of feeds. All these efforts will improve bio-security and increase production and profitability of the chicken enterprise. Third, collective action already exists among producers, which can be tapped into to promote collective marketing of chicken. Farmers are members of groups which are fairly active in other activities, but are weak in collective marketing. Producers can be encouraged to participate in collective action in order to improve their bargaining power to negotiate for better terms in the market. Collective action will facilitate collective marketing, assembly of indigenous chicken by traders, and provision of affordable loans from financial institutions, where it may be more difficult for producers to obtain credit individually due to lack of collateral. Farmers can also work in groups to start hatcheries for the provision of breeding stock; invest in alternative brooding technology to overcome the challenge of predation; pool resources for vaccines to make treatment cost effective; access inputs in a more cost effective manner; formulate their own feeds using locally available materials; and access markets that require a sizeable stock through scheduled production. Fourth, there is potential for value addition. This may be in terms of slaughtering and dressing especially for urban consumers, who are likely to pay a premium for the convenience associated with these services, thus providing business opportunities to expand existing services or start new ones. Fifth, women can grow local crops to sell to millers for manufacturing of alternative “kienyeji” supplementary feeds or using local knowledge and materials, participate in production and marketing of such feeds as a business. Finally, women can participate in production and marketing of organic manure, which can boost their incomes from sale of chicken and eggs.
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