Rearing Poultry and Reaping the Benefits: Sugi Beshra
October 09, 2020
Sugi Beshra belongs to a small village, Andhari, in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. She lives with her husband, her son, her daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter. They own around one acre of land where they cultivate paddy and vegetables for self-consumption and sale. They can cultivate roughly 18 quintals of crops and vegetables in a year and earn approximately INR 12,000 ($160 USD) from their produce. Sugi’s husband, Dhaneshwar, works as a driver for a government school, making INR 6,000 ($80 USD) a month. Sugi herself works as an Anganwadi worker and earns a monthly income of INR 7,000 ($93 USD). Sugi, along with her daughter-in-law, Gauri, also rear goats and poultry to supplement their household income.
Sugi and her family have been producing backyard poultry for around three years. Before joining the Hatching Hope project, Sugi had 10–12 birds. Despite taking care of her birds, she was unable to increase her flock size. She would often lose her birds due to predation. With limited birds, she was hardly able to meet her household consumption requirement. Selling birds to earn additional income was still an unachieved ambition until she was connected with the Hatching Hope project.
Through the project, Sugi was trained in improved backyard poultry production practices. She learned how improved feed, better shelter, and timely health care could help her scale her traditional poultry production into an increased income-generating business model. After receiving the training, she started using vaccination and deworming services for her birds from the local community vaccinator. She also learned about the free-range chicken coop design through the project and considered constructing a chicken coop for her birds.
Starting with ten birds, she increased her flock size by adopting improved production practices. In the last six months, Sugi has earned between INR 7,000–8,000 ($93–$106 USD). During the lockdown period, she sold three birds worth INR 1,500 ($20 USD) to pay for her household expenses.
Four months ago, she decided to construct her own chicken coop. Explaining why she invested in a coop, Sugi said, “I saw a coop in our village that was made with support from the project. I asked the family with the coop if it was helping them to prevent bird mortality. They told me about the benefits they had experienced, and that reinforced my decision to construct one for birds.”
She spent roughly INR 12,000 ($160 USD) to construct a free-range coop for her birds that took 12 days to construct. Since then, she has been keeping her birds in the coop, giving them improved feed and clean water.
Sugi shared, “I am an Aanganwadi worker. I often have to go out to work. My husband and son also go out to work. Before [constructing the chicken coop], we worried that some animals might attack our birds. But now, we do not have to worry about that anymore. We are assured that our birds are safe because of our new chicken coop.”
These improved production techniques have reduced mortality through disease. She explained, “Now, my birds don’t die due to disease outbreak. Their health has also improved, which leads to better pricing when I sell. We used to struggle to keep enough stock for consumption, but now we have stock to sell and eat. I never imagined this was possible.”
Sugi’s son, Khageshwar, drives a car and usually earns INR 7,000–8,000 ($93–$106 USD) in a month. Due e to restricted movement during the lockdown period, demand for transportation slumped, and he lost his earnings. They bought a car last year on loan and need to pay installments of INR 7,200 ($96 USD) per month for four years. With the income earned from poultry, they want to pay off their debt. Sugi also intends to invest in education for their daughter and granddaughter, and are paying for their eldest daughter, Basanti’s education. Basanti wants to complete her training to become an auxiliary nurse midwife, a dream that Sugi supports financially using her poultry production income.
Despite their limited means, Sugi passed on the gift of a rooster and a hen to another family in the village. When asked what motivated her to do this, Sugi replied, “We have our sources of income to pay for our sustenance, but they did not. They did not have any source of livelihood. They did not have poultry birds. With these birds, they will be able to start a source of income.”
She added, “I gave these birds to Malti seeking a promise that she will take care of the birds and give them good shelter and good food. They have also promised to build a chicken coop for their birds. I am sure she will do this, so then she can reap the benefits I have.”