Sukritbai Chautele’s successful poultry enterprise is an inspiration to her family and neighbours
Sukrit Chautele, a resident of Peera village of Chattarpur district in Madhya Pradesh had travelled all the way to Uttarakhand to attend a workshop on strategies for small-holder poultry rearing, and was proud to share her experience with participants at the workshop. She confidently shared her knowledge during the group work and asserted that her broiler rearing enterprise has transformed her life.
Sukrit bai has a 12 year old son and lives with her parents and four brothers. Her husband deserted her 12 years ago, following which she moved to her parents’ home. Her parents own approximately eight acres of land on which wheat, gram, mustard, moong, urad and soyabean is grown. The farming is largely for subsistence and a very small portion of the produce is sold in the market. Sukrit bai’s brothers work as agriculture and construction labourers in surrounding villages.
After coming to her parents’ home, Sukrit did not want to be a burden on her family and she initially started making and selling bamboo baskets. She would buy bamboo for Rs. 30-40 and sell one basket for Rs.100, which took her a full day to make. “The earnings made from selling the baskets were hardly enough to take care of my own expenses, what contribution could I make to the family income” informed Sukrit bai.
In 2005, PRADAN1 working with the Madhya Pradesh District Poverty Initiative Project (MPDPIP2), approached the women in the village to discuss various livelihood opportunities. The women were informed of the grants available under different government schemes. Most of the women showed their interest in establishing a poultry rearing enterprise, following which PRADAN facilitated the organization of Common Interest Groups3 in the village. Sukrit bai became a member of one of these common interest groups in 2006.
Following the formation of Common Interest Groups, Sukrit bai together with four women from other villages in the vicinity, went to Kesla in District Hoshangabad for a two day training on poultry rearing organized by the Kesla Poultry Society4. The training introduced them to the basics of running a poultry (broiler variety) enterprise and various poultry management practices, including the construction of poultry sheds. On completion of the training, the trained women were linked up with the MPDPIP where they were provided financial assistance of Rs.30,000/- each for constructing a 300 sq ft poultry shed. Soon after, 360 women from 13 villages federated to form a Cooperative called the Rajnagar Grameen Mahila Murgi Utpadak Sahkarita Maryadit, of which Sukrit bai is today a board member. After the formation of the Cooperative, the members started poultry farming, each rearing 300 day old chicks. The Cooperative purchases the day-old chicks, poultry feed medicines and vaccines and provides these to its members, and the cost is deducted from the sale of birds reared by the members. The birds are sold by the cooperative after attaining 1.0-1.2 kg at 25-28 days to the vendor who offers the best price. The Cooperative has also appointed a veterinarian to provide on-call referral and technical services to its members. While rearing the first batch of birds, a trainer from Kesla conducted a 30 day on-site training to provide hand holding support to the women poultry rearers. He would regularly visit each poultry shed, and monitor the performance and growth of the birds. In case some poultry rearing practices needed to be discussed in detail, he would gather the women poultry rearers at a common place in the village for on-site training.
“We were happy with the returns and are confident to invest money and expand our activity”, shared Sukrit bai. While the poultry producers meet every week in the village to discuss specific problems related to poultry rearing, the Governing Board of the Cooperative meets on the 8th of every month at the Cooperative office in village Bamitha, four kilometers away from Peera village. The selected representatives of the 13 villages that comprise the Governing Board of the Cooperative discuss the functioning of the Cooperative and poultry production in the respective villages in addition to taking collective decisions on further up-scaling their business.
The birds acquire a weight of approximately 1.0 kg by the end of the 25th day and each rearer manages to sell 3-4 quintals of birds in a cycle. Now the Cooperative procures chicks, feed, medicines, vaccines and other inputs through the state federation-MPWPCL5, Bhopal. The producers of each village have appointed a supervisor who visits the poultry farms to ensure that good management practices are being followed. He also checks the weight of the birds every week, and reports to the cooperative. A supervisor is paid Rs 0.50 per bird sold by the poultry rearers.
Sukrit bai shared that after one batch of birds is sold, the shed is kept empty for 10-15 days and cleaned thoroughly with phenyl and lime water etc, and dried well prior to the arrival of the new batch.
“I go to the samiti office after the sale of each batch of birds, cross check the records and collect my payment”, informs Sukrit bai. The other poultry rearers also regularly visit the project office to check and clear their accounts. “The procuring of chicks and selling of broiler birds is best done collectively, this also relieves us from these tasks allowing us to focus on production. When the birds are ready for sale, the Cooperative is informed who arranges the best deal for us by speaking to various vendors. The vendors come to our village to pick up the birds, which are weighed in front of us and in the presence of the village supervisor, who in turn updates the records of each poultry rearer”.
Sukrit bai shared that she cleans the utensils and provides feed and water thrice a day. In the summers, to prevent the direct heat of the sun, she covers the shed with an old saree as a curtain, and in the winter, to maintain warmth for the growing chicks, a fire is lit inside the shed. “We ensure that the smoke thus produced doesn’t affect the birds”. She informed that poultry producers of a village have set up some rules and regulations which are practiced by all the women poultry rearers in and around the villages. This includes prohibiting children, dogs and cats from entering the poultry sheds; and cleaning of hands and feet with disinfectant solution before and after entering the poultry shed. She further informed that one poultry rearer is not allowed to enter another poultry rearer’s shed.
Sukrit bai told us that the mortality rate of the birds was high in the first few batches (20-25 birds in each batch). This reduced over time with better rearing practices, and now only 2-3 birds die in each batch. Sukrit bai’s sister-in-law is also inspired by this business and she has recently taken a bank loan to construct another shed and expand the family’s poultry enterprise.
“It is most convenient to be in this work. Being around my household I can take care of my son as well as the birds while earning a decent income. Earlier I used to make Rs 1200-1500 by rearing and selling a batch of 300 birds and now I rear 500 birds in each batch and manage to earn Rs 2000-2200 every month. I am not a burden on my family and can easily afford my child’s education”, informs Sukrit bai with pride. “Off late my husband has started visiting us and he wants to take me and my son back to his home. He is ready to relocate himself as I have told him that I would like to continue and even expand my present enterprise”, says Sukrit bai proudly.
1. PRADAN – Professional Assistance for Development Action, an NGO working on livelihood enhancement for the poorest across seven states of India.
3. Common interest groups comprise individuals with similar livelihood aspirations, resource base and social background, who organize themselves to initiate a livelihood activity. On account of the selection of a similar livelihood activity, activity based clusters are developed. These groups are provided with requisite technical support including basic infrastructure, working capital, linkages with market and banks for successful implementation of selected activities.
4. Kesla Poultry Society is the first small-holder poultry cooperative in the country promoted by PRADAN. At present there are 700 women poultry producers as members of this cooperative.
5. MPWPCL, Madhya Pradesh Women Poultry Producers Company Pvt Ltd is the state federation of the six small-holder poultry cooperatives in the state. It is incorporated as a Producers Company