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ISSN : 1225-8504(Print)
ISSN : 2287-8165(Online)
Journal of the Korean Society of International Agriculture Vol.33 No.2 pp.170-179

Enhancing Household Food and Income Security Through Improved Indigenous Poultry Production: An Evidence From Kenya

Scolastica Wambua*, Alice Murage*, Leonard Wamae*, Elias Thuranira**, Soonsung Hong***, Sukwon Kang***
*Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)-Headquaters, Nairobi
**Kenya Agricultural and Livestiock Research Organization (KALRO) –Kabete
***KOPIA Africa Team, Technical Cooperation Bureau, RDA, Jeonju, 54875, Korea
Corresponding author (Phone) +254-7222-206-986 (E-mail)
April 22, 2021 June 7, 2021 June 11, 2021


Over the years, the importance of indigenous chicken has increased, with most organizations recognizing it as a vital industry for resource-poor farmers. However, the industry has experienced several problems due to poor and uneconomical returns. The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), former Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), has been on the forefront of research in order to improve productivity of indigenous chicken. The KARI improved chicken technology has been promoted in wide agro-ecologies to curb the problem of poor productivity. KALRO, through the Korean Program for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology (KOPIA) project, has been using this technology in two model villages namely Machakos and Kiambu for the past five years. This study was carried out to evaluate the impact of KARI improved chicken technology on food and household income. It is reported that 59% Machakos and 39% Kiambu farmers adopted this technology which as a result increased the adoption rate from 2% in 2008 to 59% in 2016. However, the adoption rate dropped in 2017 and started to rise again in 2018. In 2018, the number of eggs sold in both counties increased drastically, with Machakos experiencing the highest rise of 963% while Kiambu recording a 230% rise each month. This rise was mainly to the introduction of the improved KALRO chicken technique which laid between 180 and 250 eggs per year. This resulted in higher food and household revenue from egg sales. These findings demonstrated that the KARI improved chicken technology has enhanced household food and economic security.

개량 토종닭 생산을 통한 식량안보와 소득 증대
-케냐의 사례 연구 -

Scolastica Wambua*, Alice Murage*, Leonard Wamae*, Elias Thuranira**, 홍순성***, 강석원***
*케냐 농축산연구청
**케냐 농축산연구청 식량작물연구소
***농촌진흥청 기술협력국 국외농업기술과



    Farm animals and their products have a long standing and successful history of contributing significantly to human nutrition, clothing, labour, research, development and medicine (Kues et al., 2005) . Livestock keeping additionally contribute to multiple livelihood objectives and offers many pathways out of poverty. Such contributions includes and not limited to supply of food, income generation, manure, traction power, and enhancing social status (Namara et al., 2003). Further, livestock also serve as financial instrument to the poor who often do not have access to standard financial market such as banks (Kues et al., 2005). In 2009, livestock contributed US$ 4.54 billion to Kenya’s Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (ICAPLD, 2013). Poultry production is gaining popularity in the developing countries due to its role in bridging the protein availability gap, economic empowerment of the resource poor segment of the society and also fits well in the farming systems commonly practiced in these countries (King’ori et al., 2010). Chicken meat and eggs are the best source of quality protein, and are needed by the many millions of people who live in poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia, malnutrition (also referred to as poor nutrition) and under-nutrition (inadequate nutrition) are closely associated with poverty (Farrell, 2010). Most rural families in Kenya (an estimated 75%) keep chicken. Indigenous chickens contribute 71% of the total egg and poultry meat produced in Kenya and therefore impact significantly on the rural trade, welfare and food security of smallholder farmers (Magothe et al., 2012). Kenya has an estimated 43.8 million chicken contributing 5.1% of the total livestock value added (GoK, 2017). While indigenous chicken are mainly found in rural areas, broilers and layers are kept in urban areas (Loevinsohn et al., 2013). Poultry production in Kenya and in particular indigenous chicken (IC) production plays a significant role in the economic and social life of these resource-poor households, contributing to cheap source of animal proteins and cash income. Indigenous chickens are present whenever there are human settlements and their economic strength lies in their low cost of production which is a characteristic of the resource-poor rural households. They are highly adapted to the harsh scavenging conditions, poor nutrition and disease and/or parasite challenges (Lavison, 2013). Demand for IC meat is on the increase due to awareness and health concerns. However reports indicate low productivity with a decreasing trend more so on free range indigenous chicken production systems. While most poultry in Africa’s developing countries is still kept by smallholders, the poultry industry's main challenges in Africa include high price of feed raw materials (such as maize and soya), inadequate extension or advisory services to support developing farms infrastructure such as roads (MOLFD, 2012). In Kenya, despite increasing demand for IC products by local consumers, their low productivity, attributed to high disease incidences, inadequate nutrition, low genetic ability and poor marketing channels, reduce their contribution to rural development (Lavison, 2013). The chicken are kept under scavenging production systems with limited application of management interventions to improve flock productivity. With constraints such as diseases, lack of proper housing and insufficient feed, the productivity of these chicken is usually low, concluded the study by Bongani and Masuku (2013). Similar constraints were earlier reported by Okitoi and Mukisira (2001) that poor management, lack of food supplementation, lack of disease control measures and inappropriate housing have constrained indigenous chicken production.

    To counter some of the problems like low productivity and slow maturity, KARI bred a fast growing chicken with higher egg productivity popularly known as KARI Kienyeji chicken. Breeding, selection, upgrading and multiplication geared towards improving productivity of indigenous chicken in Kenya to meet changing market demands took place at KARI Naivasha in early 2000s. The improved indigenous chicken is high performing and produces 180- 250 eggs compared to 80-100 of the local ones. It attains market weight at 4 to 5 months. KOPIA in collaboration with KALRO started a project in 2016 to 2018 to promote production and marketing of the improved chicken to enhance food security and household incomes in Mbiuni, Machakos and Karai in Kiambu. This study was carried out to find out whether the improved indigenous chicken yielded better and improved the food and income security status of the targeted farmers.


    Description of Study Areas

    The study was carried out in Machakos and Kiambu counties specifically in Mbiuni and Karai wards respectively. Kariai is in Kikuyu sub-county while Mbiuni is in Mwala sub-county. The survey targeted the project beneficiaries who were keeping indigenous chicken. Machakos County is a found in the semi-arid areas of the Eastern region and experiences eratic rainfall which sometimes does not support crop production. These climatic conditions make the area ideal for production of both local indigenous and improved indigenous chicken which are raised under free range and semi-intensive production systems. Kiambu County is one of the 47 counties in the Republic of Kenya. It is located in the central region and covers a total area of 2,543.5 Km2 with 476.3 Km2 under forest cover according to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census. Kiambu County borders Nairobi and Kajiado Counties to the South, Machakos to the East, Murang‘a to the North and North East, Nyandarua to the North West, and Nakuru to the West. The county lies between latitudes 00 25‘ and 10 20‘ South of the Equator and Longitude 360 31‘ and 370 15‘ East. The site was selected due to its proximity to the city hence ready market for chicken products. Figure 1 illustrates the map of Kiambu county.

    Sampling Procedures and Sample Size

    The survey adopted a purposive sampling technique because the respondents were in the two project sites of Machakos and Kiambu Counties. The sample size was determined using the formula by Yamane (1967) as follows;

    n = N 1 + N e 2

    Where n is the sample size, N=202 is the population of the indigenous chicken farmers in the two project sites and e is the margin of error which was taken to be 0.05. Using this formula, a sample size of 135 chicken farmers was obtained. Local indigenous chicken were mainly kept under backyard system with the improved being semi-intensive. In total of 135 chicken farmers were interviewed; 62 in Karai, Kiambu and 73 in Mbiuni, Machakos. This was approximately 68% of the total project beneficiaries.

    Data Collection Method

    Data was collected using a well-structured questionnaire that was programmed in Open Data Kit (ODK). The questionnaire targeted the following household information; Household characteristics, land characteristics, farming experience in poultry farming, information sources and knowledge, indigenous chicken production, marketing, consumption, income utilization, gender roles, access to financial services and record keeping. Before going to the field, the enumerators were trained on project goals and objectives. Specifically, they were also exposed to the objectives of the end line survey. A demonstration on ODK was also done which included loading of forms in readiness for data collection. Besides the workings of the ODK, the enumerators were exposed to the contents of the questionnaire that was uploaded to the smart phones. Finally, they were trained on how to access the identified respondents, and how to observe good practices in conducting interviews with farmers.

    Data analytical Technique

    Data was cleaned and analysed using SPSS. Data exploration was done to identify anomalies and outliers. The survey data were summarized and descriptive data analysis conducted including means, frequencies, cross tabulation and inferences using chi square and F-statistic. The results were presented using tables, bar charts and pie charts for ease of reading.


    This section describes the data used and discusses results from the study.

    Demographic characteristics of households

    Figure 2 shows that most of the households interviewed were male-headed (59%). The proportion of the malehousehold heads was almost the same in Kiambu (58%) and in Machakos (59%). The high percent of femaleheaded household (42%) in the overall sample may be attributed to the fact that poultry production is treated as a women enterprise. This concurs with Sonaiya (2007) who found out that most rural households have poultry and which are maintained by women and children.Family poultry farm business contribution to the family income was 19-50%. Vincent et al. (2011) added that the poultry are reared traditionally by women.Female-headed household face challenges of accessibility to inputs including land, capital and labour, and hence opt for less expensive enterprises such as indigenous chicken.

    The average household size in the sampled model villages was 5 members and this was the same in Kiambu and Machakos county (Table 1). The total land size was 1.8 acres implying that most of the farming households were smallholders. This farming typology is quite relevant for poultry production since it doesn’t require big land. Land sizes were bigger in Machakos (2.7 acres) than in Kiambu (0.7 acres). The sample farmers had on average 18 years of experience in poultry farming; 16 years for farmers in Kiambu and 19 years in Machakos. The average distance was 3.5 to the input market and 3.9 to the output market. Distance to the input and output markets are also key in technology adoption as farmers who are far removed from the market tend not to take up new technologies. The results shows that farmers in Machakos county travelled longer distances to the input and output market (5.2 km and 6 km) compare to farmers in Kiambu who travelled 1.6 km to input market and 1.4 km to the output market.

    Majority of the household heads had attained primary school education (48% in the overall sample, 52% in Machakos and 44% in Kiambu Counties). At least a third (30%) of the total sample had attained secondary school education while about 12% had post-secondary education (Figure 3). The level of education of the household head is key in determining adoption of improved technologies. Farmers with high literacy levels are able to discern the importance of improved technologies. Furthermore, such farmers are easier to train using more technical training materials. It is important to understand the level of education as it helps in developing of key messages in the right format that the farmers can understand. Previous studies indicated that education of the farmer had a positive influence on farmers’ decision to adopt new technology. Education level of a farmer increases his ability to obtain; process and use information relevant to adoption of a new technology (Mignouna et al., 2011;Lavison 2013; Namara et al., 2013). For instance a study by Okunlola et al. (2011) on adoption of new technologies by fish farmers and Ajewole (2010) on adoption of organic fertilizers found that the level of education had a positive and significant influence on adoption of the technology.

    Majority of the farmers (82%) obtained their breeding stock (one day chick) for the improved indigenous chicken from KALRO Naivasha where they are bred at Ksh. 100 (1$)(Table 2). The chicks were accompanied by a hand out on vaccination instructions. Majority of the farmers had vaccination knowledge gained from farmer trainings carried out by KALRO officers.

    Egg production of both local and Improved per year

    The purpose of breeding the improved indigenous chicken was to improve the performance of the local indigenous chicken on egg production and body weight. According to the breeders and literature, average egg production of indigenous chicken in Kenya and other African countries is about 40-100 per year. They are laid in 3-4 clutches, each consisting of 12-20 eggs (Olwande et al., 2009). Broodiness is the main cause of low egg production and is a feature, which has been eliminated in hybrid birds through selection and breeding (Say, 1987). On the other hand the KARI improved indigenous chichen lays 180 to 250 eggs per year with the hens not brooding. The average number of eggs produced for KARI improved chicken was 260 while that of indigenous one was 65 in 2018.

    KARI improved chicken adoption trend in five years

    Results in Figure 5 shows the trend in KARI improved chicken adoption in the last 5 years. In both counties, the percent adoption rose from as low as 2% in 2008, climaxed in 2016 when 59% of the farmer in Machakos had adopted and 39% in Kiambu. However, the adoption dropped in year 2017 and started rising again in 2018. The reasons cited for the dropping or disadoption were unique for each county. In Kiambu, majority of the farmers stopped keeping KARI improved chicken was high mortality rate (71%). During the survey, farmers complained that most of the birds they had acquired had died despite vaccinating them. This discouraged the farmers and they had not made effort to acquire more birds. In Machakos, the main cause of dis-adoption was pests and diseases (58%). In the adoption theory, it is noted that farmers start using a technology often to try its benefits. After the trial period, some farmers stop using the technology and that could explain the drop in percent adopters. Loevinsohn et al. (2013), found out that farmers decisions about whether and how to adopt new technology are influenced by the dynamic interaction between characteristics of the technology itself and the array of conditions and circumstances. This could be the case above with the adoption rate in Machakos County (2.7 acres) being higher than Kiambu (0.7 acres).

    Main buyers of KARI Improved Chicken

    The main buyers of KARI improved chicken were neighbours (63%) in Kiambu and local markets (60%) in Machakos. This is due to the fact that Karai ward is a periurban area with commercial and residential premises where the consumers are the farmers neighbours unlike in Mbiuni which is purely a rural area and most of the farmers keep either both local indigenous and KARI improved or one of them. This means they can only sell their chicken to the local market. Figure 6 shows the main buyers of KARI improved chicken in Kiambu and in Machakos.

    Egg and meat Consumption in 2015 and 2018

    One of the objectives of this project was to enhance household food and nutrition security. Eggs and chicken meat is a major source of animal protein. Eggs consumed per household per month in Kiambu increased from 20 in 2015 to 34 in 2018 per month recording a 70% increment. The assumption is that an houseld consumed 8 and 5 eggs per week in 2018 in Kiambu and Machakos respectively. Consumption of birds did not change much in the three years for Kiambu with a 25% increment recorded. In Machakos, egg and chicken consumption increased by 42% and 55% respectively, Table 4.

    Number and Price of eggs and birds in 2015 and 2018

    Table 5 below gives a summary of number of eggs and birds sold in 2015 before the project started and 2018, when the project ended. The findings show that few sales for birds took place in 2015. This could mean that they only produced chicken for domestic use then but sales increased in 2018. Number of eggs sold in 2018 in both counties increased drastically with Kiambu recording a 230% increase and Machakos the highest increase of 963% per month. This was mainly contributed by the introduction of the KALRO improved chicken which lays between 180 and 250 eggs per year. This translated to increased household incomes obtained from sales of eggs. The price per egg increased by 27% on average from KES. 11 to 14 in three years. The findings further indicate that there was no much difference in the average number of mature cocks sold in 2015 and 2018 but the price per cock changed from KES. 700 to KES. 1069 representing a 52% increase. The same trend was witnessed for number of mature hens where there was no significant difference in the numbers sold per month. However there was a significant difference between the prices which increased from KES. 475 to KES. 676 representing a 42% positive change. There were no sales made for pullets and cockerels in 2015 but some sales were recorded in Mbiuni in 2018.

    Utilization of income from egg and chicken sales

    Most of the income in Kiambu was used to purchase chicken feed (38%) while in Machakos was for school fee payment (29%) (Table 6). Other income uses were in Kiambu were;- purchasing of food stuff (17%), individual savings and paying school fees (7%) and social welfare. For Machakos, the scenario was a bit different where the 2nd highest proportion was used to buy food stuff and chicken feed (20%). Other uses were, individual savings (5%), purchase of furniture and social welfare i.e– weddings, funeral, merry go round and dowry payments (3.5%). Karai ward is a peri-urban area where farmers own very small sizes of land and most of them don’t produce crops hence the reason of high proportion of income used for purchase of feed and food stuff. On the other hand, Mbiuni in Machakos County depend largely on income from fruit trees, cereals and poultry hence the high proportion of income used for paying school fees.

    Major constraints faced by chicken farmers in the project sites

    Farmers faced a myriad of challenges in production and management of their chicken flock (Table 7). The most popular constraint was cost of feeds at 56%. This concurs with a study by Kamau et al. (2018), Ayieko et al. (2014), Siyaya et al. and Kumar et al. (2013) which found out that feed cost constituted the highest proportion of cost of production. Pests and diseases (49%), unstable market prices (36% and theft (27%) were the other important constraints facing farmers.


    The study indicated that adoption of KARI improved chicken rose from 2015 to 2016 then dropped in 2017 before rising again in 2018. Egg and bird produced also increased tremendously leading to improved household income. The model village project at KOPIA Paraguay center also showed the increase of the income and productivity (An et al., 2017). Cost of feeds was cited as the highest contributor to cost of production. Results from the study also indicated that consumption of eggs and chicken meat at household level improved. Majority of households indicated that they used the incomes from sale of eggs and birds to purchase food stuff and pay school fees. the above implies that food and nutrition might have improved in the project sites and children were maintained in school because their fees had been paid.


    There is need for researchers to come up with quality feed formulations which are affordable to the rural farmers. Policy makers should find ways of ensuring that rural farmers get cheap quality feeds by subsidizing or zero rating tax on raw materials. County governments should also deploy more veterinary officers to reduce pests and disease incidences which were sited by many farmers as a challenge.

    적 요

    토종닭의 중요성은 대부분의 농업인 단체에서 자원이 부족 한 농업인들을 위한 중요한 사업으로 인식되면서 수년에 걸쳐 증가하고 있다. 그러나 이러한 사업은 낮은 수익률과 비경제 적인 문제에 직면 해 있다. 케냐 농축산 연구기구(KALRO) 의 이전 기구이었던 케냐 케냐농업연구기구(KARI)는 토종 닭 의 생산성 향상을위한 연구에 앞장서 왔다. KARI의 개량 닭 사양관리 기술은 생산성 저하 문제를 줄이기 위한 연구를 수 행 하였다. KALRO는 KOPIA 프로젝트를 통해 지난 5년 동 안 Machakos와 Kiambu County의 두 모델 마을에서 기술 이전을 추진 하였다. 본 연구는 KARI의 개량 닭이 식량과 가 구 소득에 미치는 영향을 평가하기 위해 수행되었다. 두 카운 티 모두 입식률이 2008년 2%에서 증가했으며, 2016년 Machakos County의 시범마을 참여 농업인의 59%와 Kiambu 에서 39%가 입식 한 최고치를 기록하였다. 그러나 병아리 입식 은 2017년에 감소하다 다시 2018년에 증가하기 시작하였다. 두 카운티에서 2018 년에 판매 된 계란의 수는 Kiambu카운티에 서 230% 증가하였고, Machakos카운티 시범마을에서는 한 달 에 가장 높은 963% 증가를 기록하면서 크게 증가하였다. 이 는 주로 연간 180~250개의 알을 낳는 KALRO 개량 닭의 도 입에 기인하였다. 이것은 계란 생산과 판매로 식량 및 가구 소 득 증가로 이어졌습니다. 이 결과는 KARI 개량 닭이 가정의 식량과 소득 안정에 긍정적인 영향을 미쳤음을 보여주었다.

    List of abbreviations

    • CAPI- Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing

    • KALRO-Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization

    • KARI- Kenya Agricultura Research Institute

    • KOPIA- Korean Program for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology

    • RDA- Rural Development Administration


    I would like to acknowledge Korean Program for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology (KOPIA) Kenya Centre and Rural Development Administration (RDA) for providing funds to carry out this study and KALRO for giving me an opportunity to work in this project.



    (A) Map of Kiambu county, Kenya, (B) Map of counties in Kenya


    Histograms showing male as the head of household in both Kiambu and Machakos counties


    Education level of Kiambu and Machakos farmers


    Trend in adoption rates of KARI improved chicken in Kiambu and Machakos counties in the last 10 years


    Main buyers of KARI improved indigenous chicken in both Kiambu and Machakos counties


    Demographic characteristics of households in both Kiambu and Machakos counties

    Sources of breeding stock in both Kiambu and Machakos counties

    Average number of eggs produced annually by local indigenous chicken and KARI improved breed in both Kiambu and Machakos counties

    Number of eggs and birds consumed at home in both Kiambu and Machakos counties in 2015 and 2018

    Number and price of eggs and birds sold in both Kiambu and Machakos counties in 2015 and 2018

    Utilization of income from sale of eggs and chicken in both Kiambu and Machakos counties in 2018

    Major constraints faced by farmers in both Kiambu and Machakos counties


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