Friday, 14 June 2013

IN THE FIELD - Chickens changing the lives of villagers in Tanzania

(in-country visits by ACIAR’s research managers)

In July last year ACIAR's Dr Wendy Henderson had the privilege to travel to Tanzania to witness firsthand the amazing impact of an ACIAR-funded vaccine against Newcastle Disease in chickens. 
ACIAR's Dr Wendy Henderson in Tanzania

For the past 25 years, ACIAR and AusAID have supported the development and delivery of a village-friendly vaccine that doesn’t need really strict refrigeration. For the poultry farmers, this has meant that instead of their chickens dying every year, vaccinated flocks are now not only surviving, but breeding, turning the people's lives around.
A community worker vaccinates a villager's chicken
The impact of this vaccine on the local villagers has been extraordinary. One farmer I met was Mrs Beatrice, who happily explained that the chickens’ survival has dramatically improved the health of her village's children, through eating the nutritious eggs and meat.

Mr Madai and his wife:
Successful chicken farmers
I also met Mr Madai, an amazing and entrepreneurial farmer who had formed a co-operative with fellow farmers to collectively sell hundreds of eggs each week. The resultant income provides these people with opportunities to buy food, medication, and schooling for their children. Keeping chickens has also increased the farmers’ resilience by providing a quick-sale option when times are hard.

One of the things that struck me most was the empowerment of the African women, who are usually the ones who own the chickens (often their only asset). They are now able to successfully rear their flocks, to make choices about their family’s food and education, and even to buy substantial assets like goats and cows from selling their chickens.

Project Leader Associate Prof Robyn Alders
The Australian International Food Security Centre (AIFSC) within ACIAR is building on the vaccine research’s success. It is funding a study looking at how the practices of keeping poultry and growing crops can be integrated to benefit each other. The research aims to sustainably improve production of both chickens and crops, to understand human nutritional benefits of eating poultry products and to improve market linkages for smallholder farmers. The initial scoping study is complete and further information is available on the AIFSC website.

Further information:

This video with Associate Prof Robyn Alders AO of the University of Sydney summarises the African vaccination program, and showcases some of the personal success stories of Tanzanian villagers.

Villager’s stories and further information
on current ACIAR poultry research in Africa are available on the ACIAR website.

(Written by Dr Wendy Henderson, ACIAR Communications)

1 comment:

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