According to the USDA, Americans consume some 8 billion chickens and 75 billion chicken eggs annually. Despite the importance of chicken in the US diet however, few in this country rely on the birds for their economic livelihood.
In rural Uganda, as in much of Africa, chickens are more than a dietary staple. These animals are often an essential component of indigenous lifeways, providing local village women with both food for sustenance and a vital source of income.
Jagdev Sharma, a researcher at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, along with collaborators from NAGRC (Uganda) and Keggfarms (India) are pioneering a new approach to poultry raising in Uganda, with the potential to help lift hundreds of thousands of families out of cyclic poverty and toward a healthier and more sustainable condition.
As Sharma explains, the key to this transformation is the introduction of a hybrid chicken known as the Kuroiler into rural communities throughout Uganda: "Kuroiler is a high performance scavenger developed at Keggfarms by cross-breeding. This chicken thrives under harsh rural environments. The strategy to introduce these birds in rural Uganda is likely to substantially increase returns from family flocks."
Sharma has just received a $1.4 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pursue the project, which is designed to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for Uganda's needy rural households.
As in most of Africa, over 85 percent of Uganda's population live in rural settings, typically in small villages where poultry raising has deep roots. These small-scale, backyard farmsgenerally under the care of village womenoffer one of the most efficient farming systems and also foster social and economic independence for the women who care for the birds.
Nevertheless, increasing food needs in Uganda have caused severe strain on many areas of the country. The indigenous chicken
|Contact: Joseph Caspermeyer|
Arizona State University