Madagascar: First Person - 'My Eggs Are Too Expensive to Eat' (And That's a Good Thing)

11 February 2024

Small-scale chicken farmers in the south of Madagascar are hatching a plan to boost their incomes and improve the stock of local poultry breeds, thanks to support from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Over 80 chicken rearers in Anosy Region have so far received the possibly life-altering birds, which originate in India but which are now thriving in Tanzania.

FAO brought eggs from the East African country to hatch chicks in Madagascar.

Lucette Vognentseva, one of the new owners, spoke to UN News at her home in Ifotaka town.

"I received five chickens, three females and two males, from FAO last November and so far, two of the hens have laid 46 eggs. The other one is yet to produce..

These are Kuroiler chickens and they are good for laying eggs and for meat. They are better than our local chickens because they grow faster, are bigger, produce more eggs and are more resistant to harsh conditions.

I can sell one of my eggs for 2000 ariary [$0.45] which is four times more than the value of a local chicken egg. My eggs are too expensive to eat; instead, people come to me to buy one egg to hatch in the hope it will be a male which they can cross with their indigenous hens. This will improve the stock of their chickens and will be more profitable for them.

Some people want to bring their hens to be impregnated by my cock, but I do not accept that as I cannot be sure that their chickens are not carrying diseases; mine are fully vaccinated and healthy.

They live in the coop that I built and do not roam free like the birds of my neighbours and I have to buy special food from the market as they cannot go searching for their own.

They are domesticated animals who now recognize me. I am able to tell when they need feeding or want water.

My advice to other farmers who are considering these foreign birds is to be courageous; this pure breed from Tanzania makes more money. My plan is to increase the size of my brood.

In the village, people have taken notice and are coming to me for advice about how to keep these birds. I have become known as the "Foreign chicken woman."

FAO is due to work alongside the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) to improve nutrition in Ifotaka and beyond by facilitating the provision of eggs and meat to the home-grown school feeding programme run by WFP.

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