Chickens Bring Hope to Impoverished Families
Tang Fuming speaks with emotion as she collects eggs to hand over to her village cooperative. “These chickens have really helped my family; I can now afford to pay for my son's medical expenses and look after my grandson. I can rest easy now!” Mrs. Tang is from Xingjia Village, located in Wutan Township in Jiangjin,Chongqing.
62 Years Old Breadwinner, Earning 10,000 yuan Annually for Her Family
Mrs. Tang looks after three other people in her family: her 70-year-old husband Xu Xingfu who is frail, her 39-year-old son Xu Wei who has mental illness and is unable to work, and her 12-year-old grandson, Chen Zhiyu. So although Mrs. Tang is 62 years old, she is still the family's sole breadwinner, eking out a basic living from growing some grains and raising silkworms.
"In the past, there’s only me -an old woman- left at home. How could I earn much money? When one of us got sick we couldn't afford to buy any medicine. When my son fell ill, the only thing I could do was to lock him in the house. Thanks to Heifer, I can now earn more than 10,000 yuan in a year!" More importantly, Mrs. Tang can stay home and take care of the family while making enough money to look after them. She is now raising around 50 chickens and they only need to be reared for about 20 days before they start laying eggs. By selling them to the cooperative, Mrs. Tang earns more than 40 to 50 yuan a day. This is a stable income and it has made great changes to her life.
Organic Eggs in Hot Demand
Heifer has implemented two poverty alleviation projects in Jiangjin in 2008 and 2012. After seven years working there, Heifer has the practical experience to know that, raising free-range, eco-friendly chicken in small groups is the best and most effective way to help local families generate better income.
And the model is continuously being improved upon. For example, the chicks are now purchased collectively by the project fund. The breed of choice is one that can produce both quality eggs and meats and is fast-growing so the families don’t need to wait long before they can start collecting eggs. And the families can utilize the nearby forestry resources to rear the chickens. It’s a perfect method for this village where most of the people are elderly or women because it's quite simple to learn. Also, Heifer’s partner – the Jiangjin Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau organizes regular training sessions and on-site help, and is strict about making sure the chickens are vaccinated.
To help with the sale of the eggs, the project villages also set up cooperatives, such as the Xingjia village’s Junbao Specialty Cooperative. Every day the cooperative sells about 2,500 eggs for the farmers, making a profit of more than 3,700 yuan. The government is also involved in coordinating the cooperatives’ production to match market needs and it opened egg sales outlet in Jiangjin. These organic eggs have become very popular now.
So far, this project has set up 23 Self-help groups in Jiangjin's four villages in three townships, supporting 564 families. It's expected that by 2017, each project family will have their annual income increased by at least 8,000 yuan. At the same time, another 650 families will be helped through “Passing on the Gift”.