Roadrunner (Indigenous Chickens): The Role of Chickens in Addressing Food Insecurity in a Semi-Arid Environment of Mukoma Village in Mt Darwin District, Zimbabwe
12 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2019
Date Written: January 30, 2019
Rearing indigenous chickens have been debatably documented as a promising conduit out of poverty for small-scale rural farmers in sub-Saharan African countries. However, the information about indigenous chickens is scanty and the debate remains inconclusive. This paper explores the impact on indigenous chickens (IC) in alleviating food insecurity among the small-scale farmers of Mukoma village in Mt Darwin a semi-arid region in Zimbabwe. Majority of the community people are food insecure specifically in time of drought and other natural calamities. The study employed the mixed methodology making use of both qualitative and quantitative techniques. Information about the survey was solicited by the management of a well- structured interview guide, observations, and focus group discussions. A questionnaire was also used to gather quantitative information relating to the socio-economic standing of the respondents, production, challenges and marketing of the IC. Analysis of data was done using descriptive statistics and multiple regressions using SPSS version 20. Findings showed that 85% of the smallholders are food insecure. The majority (75%) of the food insecure group is unemployed and keep indigenous chickens ranging from 5-35. The results indicated that the marketing structure was not favorable to the small-scale farmers. The indigenous chickens are barter traded by 45% of the respondents with food items like maize and cooking oil. In addition, the respondents sell the chickens to obtain income used for buying food, paying school fees and other household basics. All respondents acknowledged the importance of the IC as a safety net during times of adverse weather conditions. Despite the outlined importance of IC, the results revealed the following challenges faced by the small-scale farmers as; high morbidity of chickens due to New Castle, shortage of vaccines, lack of feed, unavailability of viable markets, lack of access to credit, high transport costs of markets, theft and lack of knowledge on good practices in raising the chickens. All the mentioned challenges faced by the IC small-scale farmers in of Mukoma village were found to be significant at P<0.05 in raising a substantial quantity of chickens. The paper in light of the challenges suggests the scaling up of services rendered by the government extension and veterinary departments to assist the farmers. Awareness campaigns and prevention of New Castle disease should be the government and non-governmental organization’s priority. The paper also recommends the government to ensure road infrastructure is improved to reduce the cost to the markets for the farmers.
Keywords: food insecurity, indigenous chickens, morbidity of chickens, smallholder farmers
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