KYEEMA undertakes feasibility study to set up village chicken breeding and training centres in PNG

With financial support from The English Family Foundation, in April this year we undertook a scoping study visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to determine the feasibility of setting up village chicken breeding and training centres in Central Province. To gain a better understanding of the need and support for the proposed project, we held meetings with senior government officials, farmers, women’s agricultural groups, innovative businesses working in the logistics/marketing space, PNG regulatory authorities and managers of Australian government funding programs in PNG.

The Problem

 It is estimated that childhood stunting prevalence in PNG is 49.5% (Global Nutrition Report, 2016), which is the fourth highest rate in the world. Improved backyard (village) chicken keeping is an ideal solution to dietary shortages and dwindling wild food sources. Poultry ranks second to seafood as the most important protein source for South Pacific Nations. Unsuitable hybrid chickens imported from New Zealand require expensive housing and processed food that local people can’t afford. These imported chickens are relatively heat intolerant, do not thrive and do not go broody, unlike the local indigenous chicken. Local breed production is currently constrained by lack of proper husbandry practices and suitable breeding stock

The Proposed Local Solution

Village farmers have well-adapted local breeds, but they are not very productive as they are not kept in formalised farm/breeding environments. Flocks are small and chicks are almost never available for sale. These local chickens are an extremely valuable resource right across the Pacific Islands as they carry ancient genetics from the wild chickens brought by the original people who migrated from Asia thousands of years ago. They are more resilient in the local environment and are able to reproduce well on a local diet, so conservation and development of these valuable chickens is also a necessary priority.

The proposed activity encompasses establishment of breeding and training centres across the country and extensive training activities to ensure the specialised skills needed for this work are provided, so that improved village poultry keeping and conservation of indigenous chickens can be sustained. Localising the industry, at least to meet rural community demand, will increase food security and prosperity for Papua New Guineans.

The Way Forward

The overwhelming conclusion from this trip was that a project for establishing village chicken breeding and training centres has the potential to generate incomes and better nutrition for households in PNG. Raising local poultry stocks has the potential to tap into a lucrative market and there is much support at government and community level for this initiative. Key challenges in the initial phase will be finding and maintaining appropriate breeding stock and also marketing village poultry in a way that addresses local transport issues and complies with local market sanitation requirements.

KYEEMA is currently seeking partners and sponsors to take this activity forward in 2018–2019.

KYEEMA PNG farms

From left to right: Farm visit inn Central Province with Extension officer, Michael Aisi; our CEO, Celia Grenning; farmers from Central Province; and the Provincial Advisor for Agriculture and Livestock, Kila Gege.

KYEEMA PNG

Grace Manai, Central Province extension worker, showing locally constructed chicken house with village chickens.