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Smallholder women farmers experience the power of poultry across India

Hatching Hope, an initiative jointly created by global food corporation, Cargill, and the international development organization, Heifer International, aims to address poverty and malnutrition through the power of poultry. Premium
Hatching Hope, an initiative jointly created by global food corporation, Cargill, and the international development organization, Heifer International, aims to address poverty and malnutrition through the power of poultry.

Cargill and Heifer International’s Hatching Hope Initiative provides trainings and resources to smallholder women farmers across India, improving livelihoods and nutrition

Poultry farming is an important source of livelihood for many in India, supplementing household income for smallholder farmers. Despite farmers’ efforts and determination, they are deeply affected by poverty and food insecurity. Many lack the knowledge, technical support and market access necessary to make poultry farming a reliable source of revenue and nutrition.

Economic resilience and food security are closely interconnected with the health and safety of livestock for smallholder farmers. Hatching Hope, an initiative jointly created by global food corporation, Cargill, and the international development organization, Heifer International, aims to address poverty and malnutrition through the power of poultry.

Since its creation in 2018, Hatching Hope has helped more than 30,000 women farmers transform their lives.
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Since its creation in 2018, Hatching Hope has helped more than 30,000 women farmers transform their lives.

Since its creation in 2018, Hatching Hope has helped more than 30,000 women farmers transform their lives. Lata Marandi, a smallholder farmer and poultry producer from Odisha, experienced firsthand how using effective poultry production practices and following simple biosecurity measures is great for business. Lata and her family have been breeding birds for a long time, but they have never been able to make it their primary source of income. Lata had little control over her traditional methods of raising chickens and was unaware of better shelter and feeding practices that could have improved the health of her flock. Hatching Hope has connected farmers like Lata to the resources they need to build a profitable and sustainable business as well as ensure availability of nutritious food for their families. It is empowering them with the knowledge about poultry rearing practices, education around rearing, benefits of availing extension services such as deworming and vaccination, and linkages with the markets. All these help in creating an enabling environment for poultry producers, micro-entrepreneurs, buyers and consumers.

The training Lata received through the project helped scale up her business and increase her income. Lata is now able to sell 25 –30 birds in a year, adding nearly $150 to her annual household income. She also opened a new feed mill, which she operates with the help of one of her sons, multiplying the initiative’s benefits to the next generation in her family. While these micro-feed mills fulfill the producers feed requirements, it also helps other local poultry producers easily access low-cost high-quality feed.Through her feed mill business, she is producing several quintals which adds significantly to her household income. Between April 2021 to March 2022, she produced around 15.91 quintals of feed and earned around $180 from her feed mill alone.

While trainings ensure that producers are aware of the benefits of adopting improved practices, these input and service providers are helping producers have access to the necessary resources as well.
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While trainings ensure that producers are aware of the benefits of adopting improved practices, these input and service providers are helping producers have access to the necessary resources as well.

“I am so glad I took up this opportunity. I am sure my business will continue to grow consistently in the coming days,"says Lata, as she talks about the impact Hatching Hope has had on her livelihood.

Lata is one of the thousands of women farmers benefitting from Hatching Hope’s approach of strengthening the backyard poultry value chain. It has helped participants learn better production techniques, enabling them to improve their bird’s health and flock size. They are doing this with the help of nearly 206 active animal health service providers, around 30 micro-feed mills and approximately ten hatcheries. While trainings ensure that producers are aware of the benefits of adopting improved practices, these input and service providers are helping producers have access to the necessary resources as well. Without that access, the producers will not be able to sustainably continue the practices.

The initiative is also promoting awareness campaigns in communities focused on the nutritional benefits of poultry products.
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The initiative is also promoting awareness campaigns in communities focused on the nutritional benefits of poultry products.

The learnings are improving income and nutrition across 300,000 households. The region has recorded a substantial increase in the monthly consumption of eggs and meat per household per annum from 25% and 32% to 69% and 67% respectively. These poultry products also fulfilled family nutritional needs during COVID-19 lockdown. When communities were unable to access local markets to purchase food items due to restrictions and the purchasing power of the consumers dropped due to inability to sell their agricultural products, poultry was easily accessible to them and provided much needed food security and quality nutrition.

The initiative is also promoting awareness campaigns in communities focused on the nutritional benefits of poultry products. These mass campaigns are helping producers learn about critical poultry production techniques and consumers about the benefits of poultry products. It helps create a market for producers and extension service providers and contributes towards building an enabling environment. As part of the initiative, women, in the form of Self-Help Groups (SHGs), are coming together to learn, save, inter-loan and work collaboratively towards building resilience. Over 2,640 women SHGs have benefitted from the training so far, strengthening women-led institutions and laying the foundation for new SHGs.

After its success in Odisha, the project has now been expanded to the state of Andhra Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh, Heifer International is working, through support from both Cargill and the Walmart Foundation, to improve farmer income through backyard poultry using the Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) approach. The FPOs help farmers collectivize their produce and then engage with markets so they can leverage economies of scale. Collectivized sales help producers get a fair price for their produce and help buyers reduce collection and transportation costs.

At this expanded scale, the project now aims to usher in a marked improvement in poultry trade and farmer incomes, thus creating prosperity and resilience for local communities. This new approach is to address the needs of the poultry farmers in Andhra Pradesh. In Odisha, the project had to start from the ground, since community groups and organized cooperatives were nearly non-existent. In Andhra Pradesh, cooperatives already exist; however, they struggle with accessing information, mentorship, markets and support organizing their business as well as ensuring its members remain active. The initiative is addressing those challenges along with implementing learnings acquired from Hatching Hope Odisha.

This is just the beginning for Hatching Hope. Cargill and Heifer International are excited to continue building on Hatching Hope’s success in India by moving into Phase 3 of the initiative. In this phase, the project will be focusing on strengthening the poultry value chain along with introducing digital platforms to disseminate knowledge and facilitate sales.

Disclaimer: This article is a promotional feature and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s) etc., stated/featured in the same.

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