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Family poultry production in A & N islands: Present status and future strategy

Central Agricultural Research Institute,Port Blair
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Family poultry is an integrated component of nearly all-rural, many peri-urban and some urban households and provides valuable protein and generates extra cash. All ethnic groups tend to be involved in Family poultry production. Women, assisted in some cases by children, play a key role in this sector, as they are the main owners and managers of Family poultry. For instance, according to Gueye (1998a) more than 85% of rural farming in sub-Saharan Africa keep one or more species of poultry and more than 70% of chicken owners are women, while traditionally pigeons belong only to children. Four management subsystems have been described by various workers. These are the free- range system or traditional village system, the backyard (family or subsistence) system, the semi- intensive system and the intensive husbandry system. According to Gueye (1998b), the first two types are the most commonly practiced in rural Africa. The adoption of one or more management sub-systems are largely dependent on availability of resources and inputs. These management sub- systems frequently overlap. For example, free range is sometimes coupled with feed supplementation, backyard with night confinement but without feeding; standard poultry cages in confined space, etc.

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Indian Scenario

  In spite of the progress in agriculture, India still faces a big challenge in job creation and maintenance of food security and women’s role in farming is still inadequately acknowledged. It is estimated that 78% of India’s economically active women are involved in agriculture. Across the poor farming communities care of animals is the women’s domain, but not in the rich families. Rural poultry sector contributes nearly 30% of the national egg production in India and is the most neglected one. The rural households normally maintain the desi birds under scavenging or semi-scavenging conditions. During the past three decades the popularity of scavenging chicken has reduced drastically due to low production of the native chicken used in this system. Some of the crossbreds like AVM Coloured, Kroiler, CARI Devendra etc. for meat, Gramalaxmi, Krishna J etc. for egg and Vanaraja, Giriraja, Krishnapriya, CARI Gold for dual purpose (both meat and egg) were developed for rural poultry production (Sharma and Hazary, 2002).

Present status of family poultry production in A& N Islands

 Commercial poultry farming in these Islands is very limited. The commercial poultry farms are located mostly in South Andaman and a very few farms are located in some other Islands. Poultry production in the Islands is still exclusively a rural occupation and a large percentage of the people engaged, belong to the poorer section of the rural community. Majority of eggs in the market come from hens kept in semi-intensive or backyard systems. Poultry keeping has a pivotal role in the economy of rural farmers. Of late there has been an increasing awareness among the farmers to adopt diversified agriculture, including livestock and poultry. Native poultry germplasm of these Islands comprises Nicobari fowl, Naked neck, Frizzle fowl, Barred desi, Burmese fowl, nondescript desi and Desi ducks. Nicobari fowl produces highest number of eggs under backyard among all the indigenous breeds of India.

Poultry flock size in the villages varies from 10-50. These include native chicken and ducks. Women, assisted in some cases by children, play key role in this sector, and they are main owners and managers of family poultry production. The birds are reared either under free-range system or backyard or semi intensive system.

The birds in villages under backyard survive well on kitchen waste, coconut grating, insects, pests, wild seeds, grains, grasses and other vegetations. The birds are able to consume and utilize high fiber diet. Usually, the birds after laying, go to a long distance or stay in and around the house of the owner in search of feed and come back at dusk or by the call of the owner. In free range rearing the birds fulfill the nutritional requirement for maintenance and production by searching and consuming feed around the household. The owner sometimes provides supplemental feed like rice, wheat and paddy. The amount of food provided to the birds depends on the financial status of the farmers and egg laying capacity of the birds. In remote Islands farmers usually do not provide feed to the birds or if so, the feed may be coconut grating or very small amount.

In Andaman group of Islands , Car Nicobar, Campbell Bay and in Nancowry Islands owners provide a small shelter made up of local materials to the birds. However, in some remote Islands, like Pilpillo, Pilomillo, Kondul etc. poultry owners do not provide any house to the birds and the birds take shelter in or under the tree or in the Jungles during adverse climate. During night hours, the birds take shelter in bushes or inside a coop nearby the house. Small low cost houses made up of local materials are used for shelter during night. In corner of the house, sometime, bamboo basket are provided for laying.

Effort of CARI

The main effort of CARI in last two decades was conservation and genetic improvement of indigenous poultry resources as well as introduction of new chicken breeds and other poultry species. In the recent past, Japanese quail, Turkey and Guinea fowl have been introduced. This Institute has developed two genetically improved strains of (original Brown) Nicobari, namely Black and White Nicobari, suitable for backyard farming. Very recently one strain cross layer ( Nishibari) and the other Nicorock (a breed cross) for dual purpose which are suitable for backyard farming in Bay Islands . Nishibari produces 160-170 eggs per year under backyard and Nicorock produces130-140 eggs per year with an average of 1 kg body weight at 12 weeks of age under backyard (Chatterjee et al., 2004 a & b). Giriraja was introduced and large-scale evaluation was done. Later Vanaraja was introduced and evaluated. Egg production in Giriraja was slightly better but weight gain in Vanaraja was higher. Due to segregation after interse-mating Giriraja was less popular with farmers. Vanaraja, if growth is controlled, was the best dual-purpose breed under zero as well as semi-intensive system. Based on Vanaraja, a separate production system was developed for self-employment, named as new rural poultry production technology.

Future strategies

 This Institute has given more emphasis on rural poultry production under scavenging and semi scavenging systems. We are supplying Black and White Nicobari, Nishibari, Nicorock and Vanaraja to the farmers time to time through KVK and IVLP programme. There is a great demand of these birds among the farmers. The supplementary income of the farmers is being increased when they are rearing these birds. Mostly women and unemployed youth are being trained before supply of these birds to them. In the near future, more number of villages in different Islands will be covered for development of family poultry production.


Chatterjee, R.N. Rai, R.B. Kundu, A, Jai Sunder, Senani, S. and Pramanik , S.C.   (2004 a). Performance of the direct and reciprocal crosses of White Leghorn with Brown Nicobari under intensive and backyard management. Indian Journal of Animal Science (communicated).

Chatterjee, R.N. Rai, R.B. Kundu, A, Jai Sunder, Senani, S. and Pramanik , S.C.  (2004 b). Performance cross of Black Rock with Black Nicobari under intensive and backyard management. Indian Veterinary Journal (communicated).

Gueye, E.F. (1998 a). “Poultry play an important role in African village life”,  World poultry, 14(10: 14-17.

Gueye, E.F. (1998 b) ). Village egg and fowl meat production in Africa, World  Poultry Science Journal, 54 (1): 73-86.

Sharma, R.P. and Hazary, R.C. (2002). Development and propagation of synthetic breeds for backyard poultry farming. Proceedings of National Workshop on Characterization and conservation of indigenous poultry germplasm, 26-27 Feb,  2002, pp 104-113.


Source : IPSACON-2005