Poultry farming-status and prospects in Ethiopia

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Poultry represents an important sub-sector in the Ethiopian agriculture. Poultry as industry is also of high economic value for the country. Poultry ‎products including eggs and meat constitute a significant share in the global food industry. Enkulal Fir-Fir or crumbled eggs with bread is common eaten for breakfast in various parts of Ethiopia. Poultry products are also known for having high nutritional content.

In Ethiopia, poultry is an integrated part of the smallholder production systems and plays a significant role in poverty alleviation.

Globally poultry is known to have a significant potential to generate income for households. For Ethiopia poultry can be both an income earner for households for household farmers and a source of foreign exchange.

Many developing and developed countries have integrated poultry in their economy. Evidences show that in 2007 nearly 145,615 farms were producing poultry and poultry products in United States of America. According to the United Nations estimation chicken population in world has reached sixteen billion. The figures from theGlobal Livestock Production and Health Atlas for 2004 show that China has the highest poultry population of 3,860,000,000, United States is second with 1,970,000,000, while Indonesia, Brazil and India have 1,200,000,000, 1,100,000,000, and 648,830,000 chickens respectively. Mexico, Russia and japan also follow the list. Poultry production has high socio-economic value and vital specially for those who are landless and who do not own cattle, sheep, or goats.

In Sub-Saharan African countries household level poultry constituted 78 per cent of the overall poultry production in 1996. In Ethiopia much of the eggs and chicken meat is produced by household farmers. The high increase in consumers’ demand for poultry products mainly in urban areas will have major implications on the prices of the products which obviously is important for those engaged in the sector

Chicken can be raised in situations with limited feed and housing resources. Chickens are ‘waste converters’: they ‘convert’ a scavenged feed resource base into animal protein. They are therefore by far the most important species for generating income for rural families.

Poultry down and feathers have also found multiple household uses and importantly numerous trade opportunities, while poultry manure is used as soil and farm pond fertilizer, hence contributing to increased crop and fish yields, and commercialization. Poultry manure is especially important to small scale farmers who have difficulty of accessing and affording fertilizers, as well as those small-scale farmers who wish to make the best possible use of all the natural resources found and available on their farms.

Domestic chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, dove, pigeons, pheasants, quail and ostriches are raised throughout the world. Pheasant, quail and ostriches are more commonly found on large scale commercial farms, while other poultry (chickens, ducks, geese) are found more commonly on small-scale farms around rural, peri- urban and urban households.

Chickens were domesticated and spread to China, India, Africa, Pacific Island, and Europe. The main use of chickens has never changed. They were primarily raised for human food. In addition, their feathers were used for making cushions, litter for fertilizers and, in some societies, chickens were used in cock fighting as a source of entertainment. As the human population increases, the poultry industry continues to grow to meet the demand for poultry products in world markets. The importance of poultry farms lies in the quality of products that are provided to humans. Broiler farms provide meat that supplies the human body with high quality proteins. Layer farms provide eggs rich in proteins and vitamins, especially the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Poultry farms are fast-paced operations that can fulfill the demand for meat and eggs, and can be expanded easily to meet the ever-growing Demand.

Chickens are fast growing animals. In the past, it used to take about four months to produce a two kilogram chicken. However, today a two-kilogram chicken can be produced in 42 days. Due to this fact, poultry farms can be profitable enterprises.

All over the world, there are more than 300 domestic chicken species. These are divided in three categories: commercial breeds, hybrid breeds resulting from cross-breeding and local breeds or land races. The commercial breeds can again be divided according to the purpose they are raised for. These are egg laying chicken, chicken raised for meat and both egg-laying and meat or dual-purpose breeds.

Livestock production, as one component of agriculture plays an important role in the national economy as it contributes 13-16 per cent of the total GDP. Poultry has a big potential to contribute to this sector. This is mainly because chickens are small in size and fast in reproduction compared to other species of livestock. Moreover, poultry is eco friendly and does not compete for scarce land resources.

Poultry farming is widely practiced in Africa almost every farmstead keeps some poultry mainly for consumption and for sale. Poultry production systems of tropical regions are mainly based on the scavenging indigenous chickens found in virtually all villages and households in rural areas. Approximately 80 per cent of the chicken populations in Africa are reared in these systems.

Chicken farming is an important agricultural activity in almost all rural communities of Africa which makes the best use of locally available resource. Though neglected in the development themes for a long time, now a day’s many researchers and development agents are coming into consensuses that the smallholder chicken production plays a major role in poverty alleviation and food security at household level.

The American poultry industrial sector showed that the combined value of production from broilers, eggs, turkeys, and the value of sales from chickens in 2012 was USD 38.1 billion, up 8 per cent from USD 35.3 billion in 2011. Of the combined total, 65 per cent was from broilers, 21 per cent from eggs, 14 per cent from turkeys, and less than 1 per cent from chickens. The value of broilers produced during 2012 was USD 24.8 billion, up 8 per cent from 2011. The total number of broilers produced in 2012 was 8.44 billion, down 2 per cent from 2011.

Socio-economic surveys have made it possible to make genetic improvements (based on factors important to the local communities).

The food requirement in the country is growing. Consumption of non-vegetarian food goes up with increasing purchasing power. The open market policy of the government has opened access to the introduction of in the world and also created pressure on local producers in terms of quality production.

The animal production industry has to put up with the prices but the rising price of grains and oil seeds is creating enormous pressure on the livestock sector by increasing the cost of production. For instance the dairy sector is under tremendous pressure between rapidly increasing input costs and slow increase of the price of milk while the poultry sector is most promising in terms of organized production and efficiency. The industry is maintaining the growth of eight to 12 per cent annually in spite of increasing input costs and not that fast improvement of the poultry products. The prices of eggs and chicken are also on the rise.

India is the third largest producer of table eggs in numbers after China and US. It has recently overtaken Mexico, which was the third largest egg producer. India is the fourth largest broiler producer after China, US and Brazil.

There has been a phenomenal increase in broiler production between 2002 to 2012 in spite of the crisis that arose out of bird flu scare in 2004-2006.

A great bulk of poultry and eggs are produced in the various parts of Ethiopia.

The most pressing need for many countries in Africa today is rapid industrialization and entrepreneurship for achieving the basic social and economic objectives. The development of small enterprises contributes to the expansion of existing industrial base and growth of new industries. Thus, the poultry production offers better prospects for economic growth. However the sector is facing severe problems, especially in countries like Ethiopia on account of inadequate finance, lack of technical and managerial skill, lack of efficient and modern equipment, and lack of proper infrastructural facilities among others.

Market prices of chicks, meat, and feed vary and these variations can affect enterprise profitability. Marketing is affected by factors such as high transport cost. Retail sales are only the way for marketing and income generation for rural households. Large scale organized market is essential to overcome the problems and income distribution.

Each operation in the poultry business has become a huge business by itself. Some farms specialize in producing eggs for market consumption, or for hatching chickens for the purpose of meat production. Many large farms specialize in raising broilers for meat production. Others are focused on feed preparation or on using the wastes of poultry farms for compost production and fertilizing farmlands. If managed and marketed well, all segments of the poultry business can be profitable.

Ethiopia has many favorable and conducive factors for rapid development of industries, and thus, poultry promises high opportunities.

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