Chickens are a key player in African Development.
In his passionately delivered acceptance speech, Ibrahima Ben-Aziz Konate, 2017 Anzisha Grand Prize Winner opened with these words: “Africa must be nourished by Africans”. This statement reflects the philosophy and belief that led to him founding Poultry D’or, a poultry business in Cote d’Ivoire that offers same day delivery of chickens and eggs to the community around him.
Konate is part of a wider movement of entrepreneurs fighting to reduce Africa’s disproportionate importation of its most consumed meat: chicken. In addition to aiding improved nutrition, farming chickens locally will also mean reducing the environmental impact from transportation of meat products en masse mostly from the USA, Brazil and Europe. Further, farming chickens sustainably works to improve livelihoods of the local communities through increased employment.
Africa imports over 83% of the food it consumes. Particularly, chicken accounts for over 50% of all meat consumed in Africa. Dynamics such as urbanization and population growth have meant that Africa is not able to grow enough low cost grain to feed chickens as there is already a shortage of grain for human consumption. The challenge is a complex one. If Africa cannot raise enough grain to feed its chickens, which in turn feed its people, we will continue to depend on imported chicken. Working around this challenge, Konate partners with a local farm which grows maize, which in turn is used as feed for his brood.
It is not just Konate who believes in the transformational power of locally produced chickens. Earlier this year, Bill Gates announced an initiative which donates a flock of chickens to poor families in developing countries. Working with partners throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, the initiative aims to create sustainable market systems for poultry. The goal of the initiative is to help 30% of the rural families in Africa raise improved breeds of vaccinated chickens, which currently sits at only 5%. Gates has estimated that a farmer breeding five hens could generate up to $1,000 a year, which is above the $700 poverty line.
Imported chickens threaten local producer’s livelihoods. With a range of preferential agricultural trade agreements implemented across the continent, chicken imports increase supply and reduce prices, undercutting local suppliers, who are then squeezed out of the local market.
Sustainable rearing and selling of locally produced chickens holds a hope for solving the interlinked challenges of poverty, unemployment, nutrition and improving local value chains. Bill Gates, Konate and other leaders have made a big bet on chickens as a development vehicle. Supporting the movement by sourcing and buying locally produced poultry products moves us one step closer to a better nourished and economically independent Africa.