Poultry generally represents 30% of the agricultural contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (FAO, 2007). The poultry sector is important for income generation for SHFs (especially in rural areas), food security and economic growth. Poultry population in Kenya was estimated at nearly 37.3 million in 2009, 84% of which were indigenous, 8.3% layers, and 5.7% broilers, with all other birds making up the remaining 1.7%.
Annual poultry meat production is estimated to be 8,600 tons, valued at KES 3.5 billion, while the annual egg production is 1.2 billion, valued at KES 9.7 billion (MOLD, 2009). There is a growing demand for poultry meat and eggs from improved and indigenous birds as well as from bio-secure smallholder flocks. Kenyan consumers recognize them as high in quality and value. This presents new prospects for promoting agricultural and rural development in Kenya, and expanding opportunities for the inclusion of SHFs in this market.
The poultry industry presents a unique opportunity for inclusive development in the ASAL areas on account of the myriad benefits the enterprise has to offer. One needs a relatively small amount of start-up capital and it is often the only enterprise operating at the household level during dry spells. Poultry production has traditionally been an activity associated with women in most communities; it presents a unique avenue for reaching out to women and youth alike. Poultry (especially chicken) are often used as rural “banks” into which a household can tap in times of need, through the sale of mature birds and eggs. Consumption of eggs in the household, especially by young and growing children, can also help address malnutrition.