Strengthening food nutrition security through family poultry and crop integration in Tanzania and Zambia


Jonathan Rushton, Richard Kock




Livestock are vital to the livelihoods of 70% of the world’s rural poor, providing protein and micronutrients, cash income, draft power, social status and financial security as a form of savings. Family poultry have a special place as they are frequently the only livestock under the control of women, require low investment, assist with pest control, provide manure for fertiliser, contribute to both poverty alleviation and food security, and have a relatively low zoonotic disease risk.

Project details

Factors that facilitate or impede uptake and adaptation of new interventions in family poultry across a spectrum of farming systems have not been formally documented and investigated. Although the relationship between poultry and crop value chains is poorly understood, there is initial evidence that strengthening the links between the two will have a synergistic effect on the whole farming ecosystem, reducing risk and increasing food security. It is therefore proposed to undertake adaptive research to investigate poultry and crop inputs and markets, with a focus on family poultry and grain crops in appropriate agro-ecosystems in Tanzania and Zambia, to identify new practices and policy options to synergise both their productivity and sustainability.

Food security is recognised as a global priority and it is particularly crucial in Tanzania and Zambia where stunting in children under five years of age is estimated to be 42% and 45%, respectively. Multilateral agencies such as WHO and UNICEF have been supporting a range of micronutrient fortification and supplementation efforts but the long term sustainability of these interventions is now being questioned. Both national and multilateral agencies in these two countries are seeking sustainable solutions to the food security challenge that will improve human nutrition through improved household income and dietary diversification. Family poultry production can increase nutritional outcomes directly by providing food and indirectly by providing cash income to purchase food. Poultry meat and eggs provide higher quality protein and micronutrients (e.g. zinc, vitamin A and iron) that are more bioavailable than plant based nutrients.

The project research activities will contribute significantly to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1, 3, 4 and 5 and are also expected to have some positive effect on the remaining MDGs. The project also aligns strongly with several of the AIFSC’s research programs. It is of particular relevance to Market Access, Value Chains and Social Systems (Program 2), since it should enable increased income opportunities for smallholder farmers through sale of surplus production. It also relates to Food Nutrition and Safety (Program 3), through improving nutrition and increasing diversity in diets. The capacity building program of Education, Training and Gender (Program 5) is also relevant, as the project incorporates aspects of training and assisting famers to cope with unfavourable climatic or socio-economic events.

The proposed five year project will employ qualitative and quantitative research conducted on the basis of long-term relationships with communities, national government ministries, key private sector partners, research institutions (especially those linked to National Agricultural Research Systems; NARS) and NGOs.

In support of increased poultry and crop value chain efficiency and household food security, this proposed five year project will seek to answer the following questions:

  • Can strategic linkages between family poultry and crop value chains improve the socio-economic, biological efficiency and social equity of both operations?
  • Can the health and production of family poultry and the trade of poultry products be increased by linking production to supplementary feed from cropping activities?
  • Can increased efficiency of family poultry production and trade contribute to ecologically sustainable agriculture, sanitary food and improved human food security, health and wellbeing?