Indigenous peoples worldwide represent some of the most marginalized and impoverished people in the world, often living in the most remote and vulnerable places. Although they account for less than five per cent of the global population, they comprise about 15 per cent of all the poor people in the world. This has implications for their knowledge systems and their physical state of nutrition and health, not to mention their often strong spiritual traditions and connections to land.

We agree with our FAO partners that in finding solutions for indigenous equality and cultural preservation, indigenous peoples must be recognised as integral partners in achieving global sustainable development goals through widespread educational and agricultural reform that reflects the importance of local knowledge and resources, and that biological and cultural diversity underpins food and livelihood security as well as quality of life.

Decreased utilisation of traditional nutrition landscapes can lead to direct nutritional impacts such as anaemia and childhood stunting and malnourishment. Sustainable chicken agriculture (also known as village, rural, smallholder or family poultry) provides a useful domesticated meat alternative for poor households and communities under these conditions.

We also agree that investing in indigenous chickens and other indigenous livestock is key for sustainable livelihoods. If well managed and gaps such as sustainable Newcastle disease control using quality assured vaccine are addressed, these production systems are very well suited to use of local resources and knowledge – feeds and ethnoveterinary medicine as a foundation for good health and production. There is potential here for genuinely innovative, sustainable development using applied indigenous knowledge and scientific research that could enhance long term outcomes for livelihoods.

Smallholder chicken production also provides valuable ecosystem services such as soil enrichment and parasite control. It aligns well with the strong ecological discipline of most indigenous cultures worldwide.