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GP Brief - Private doorstep delivery of the village hardy bird Kuroiler

by ruchita last modified Jan 27, 2014 12:51 PM

The case of Keggfarms Ltd.

In recent years there has been increasing recognition among the development community of the role of backyard poultry production in sustaining and enhancing poor peoples’ livelihoods. Market oriented backyard poultry enterprises are being recognized as a stepping stone for the poorest households to break out of the vicious circle of poverty and deprivation.

Over the last two decades, however, whilst there have been many innovations in commercial poultry production and the industry has grown by leaps and bounds, backyard poultry has neither received much attention by researchers or commercial interests nor has the public sector made any significant breakthrough despite the multitude of efforts to breed and distribute birds suitable to scavenging conditions.

In India, the investment of Keggfarms Ltd in backyard poultry is an innovative market-based approach which gives an opportunity to the rural poor, especially women, to escape the poverty trap.

  • Kuroilers: Village Hardy Birds
    The ‘Kuroiler’ - “Kegg + Broiler” - was introduced by Keggfarms Ltd in 1993. It is a hardy dual purpose bird with significantly higher productivity traits than indigenous birds while retaining many of their desirable features, such as multiple feather colours for camouflage, agility to escape from predators and resistance to diseases. Reared under scavenging / semi-scavenging conditions, the Kuroiler begins laying eggs at six months of age and lays approx 150 to 200 eggs in one egg-laying cycle compared to 30 to 50 eggs laid by local desi birds. The Kuroiler grows faster and can be marketed earlier than desi; a desi bird would take 8 to 9 months to weigh 1 kilogram while a Kuroiler weighs the same in approximately 3 month’s time.

GP Brief graph

In the first year of its introduction, the company sold more than a million day-old Kuroiler chicks. Today Keggfarms Ltd distributes about 10 million birds to 800,000 fe/male farmers located in some of the remotest and poorest parts of Northern and Eastern India.

  • Kuroiler as a Living Bank
    The Kuroiler has had a major impact on rural livelihoods through increasing income, nutrition and women empowerment. Kuroilers bring in more market orientation as compared with the local desi birds and contribute significantly to improve cash flows at the household level. Many poor households consider the Kuroiler as a living bank that they can en-cash in case of an emergency, which is critical from food security perspective. From a nutritional perspective, because of the higher number of eggs, a larger share is used for home consumption mostly provided to children. Finally, women are the main care takers of poultry and are the sole decision maker or involved in decision making regarding sale of eggs and birds, buying the chicks and inputs and also have a say in spending income from poultry, which gives them more economic independence.
  • Two Innovations: the Bird and Door-step Delivery
    There are two key innovative aspects of the Kuroiler model. The first innovation relates to the above mentioned characteristics and higher productivity of the bird. The second innovative aspect is the door-step delivery chain of the Kuroiler model –see figure 2, whereby a large number of birds reach the door step of the rural households in remote areas.

supply chain

Figure 2 Kuroiler Door-step Delivery Chain

The key players in this delivery chain are the dealers, mother units, pheriwalas , and finally the rural households which rear the birds. Keggfarms Ltd. supplies its ‘day old chicks’ to 1,500 mother units across the states where it operates directly or through its appointed dealers/suppliers.
The mother units are operated by local entrepreneurs and keep anywhere between 300 to 2,000 birds at one time. They rear day old chicks up to about 3 weeks age, vaccinate them, and then sell them to pheriwalas who cycle/travel to villages and sell these chicks to rural households. Typically, the mother unit entrepreneur and the pheriwalas make a profit of approximately Rs 3 per bird (7 in USD cents). The most credible aspect of the Keggfarms Ltd. approach is that this delivery chain supports a commodity serving the poorest in a financially sustainable manner without the support of any external agency.

Despite the strengths, there are weaknesses in the delivery chain as well. A critical weakness is that the poultry extension and health services are moderate to poor at all levels which contribute to relative high mortality rates.

  • Incorporating Poultry Extension and Health services
    From the policy perspective, this model provides evidence that market-based approaches can also work for the poor and, in particular, that a private player can develop, produce and deliver village hardy birds at the door-step of poor households in remote areas.

This does not, however, eliminate the role of the government. Indeed, there is significant scope of further strengthening poultry based livelihoods of rural poor by creating synergistic partnerships between government agencies and the Keggfarms Ltd specially in the area of providing poultry extension and health services. Basic vaccination coverage could easily be integrated in the door-step delivery chain, as well as bio-security measures which are practical, implementable and cost-effective.

Good Practice Brief based on: Poultry based livelihoods of rural poor: Case of Kuroiler in West Bengal. SA PPLPP study Report, by V. Ahuja, M. Dhawan, M. Punjabi, and L. Maarse. Date of publication: July 2008 (