Backyard poultry farming comes to the rescue of locals in Bharatpur who have seen losses in agriculture

Dalit and poor families in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan are taking up backyard poultry farming in a big way as a viable livelihood option to compensate for losses in agriculture and raise their standard of living. Poultry farming has reached small and nondescript villages in several panchayat samitis in the district, thanks to the intervention of civil society groups.

The initiative began as part of an action plan to help out households living below poverty line by improving their socio-economic conditions. About 2,000 youths were provided one-day training at different panchayat samitis two years ago and the interested families were supplied with 100 chicks of Chryler breed each at a nominal registration fee.

Lupin Human Welfare & Research Foundation, working in Bharatpur for the past several decades, is extending support to the villagers in starting the high income yielding occupation. Initially the foundation studied geographical location of villages in the region as well as demand in the market to check out the viability of the venture. Youth were sent to Ajmer, considered the State’s centre of poultry farming, to learn the techniques and become self-sufficient.

Foundation’s executive director Sita Ram Gupta says 22 fishermen in Jeeraheda village of Kaman panchayat samiti were the first to get 2,000 chicks. Thereafter, 1,000 chicks were given to 10 BPL households in Nagar panchayat samiti, 1,200 to 11 households in Rupbas, 5,400 to 54 households in Kumher, 500 to five households in Nadbai, 2,000 to 20 households in Sewar and 1,600 to 16 households in Bayana panchayat samiti.

Chicks of Chryler breed generally feed themselves on grass, fodder, insects and leftover food in and around the home. Reared in the open space adjacent to houses, they are sturdy with good resistance to diseases and can also protect themselves against the attacks of stray dogs and other animals. Mr. Gupta says this quality has helped the villagers look after fowls well and get eggs from them regularly.

Chicks gain weight fast, putting on two kg within the first two months of their life. Dalit families in Kanchapura village of Kumher panchayat samiti are earning huge profits through the sale of fowls, produced in as many as 14 units, at the rate of Rs. 200 a kg. There is significant consumption of non-vegetarian commodities in the region and the demand is high throughout the year.

Hens of Chryler breed start laying eggs when they are five months old. Poultry farmers get about 250 eggs from a hen in a year and sell them at Rs. 10 to Rs. 15 each, which is three times the rate of regular eggs. Mr. Gupta says there is a heavy demand for fowls and eggs in the markets of Agra, Mathura, Aligarh, Gurgaon and Delhi where the products are sold at good profit margins.

An average household starting poultry farming with 100 chicks easily earns Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 30,000 annually after about two months, according to Mr. Gupta. Backyard poultry farming, requiring negligible investments, has come as a boon to the villagers confronting high costs of living, unemployment and increasing prices of agricultural inputs.

While loans have been arranged for the youth who have constructed sheds from the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), an intelligent planning for the business has attracted brokers, agents and businessmen from big towns situated near Bharatpur. Chicks are being supplied at 75 per cent subsidy to the needy households.

The initiative has improved the quality of life of villagers and connected them with other enterprises in the region, such as dairy operations, bee-keeping, training for security guards and women’s self help groups. Mr. Gupta affirms that the civil society groups would continue to support villagers for betterment of their lives.