Great eggspectation?

December 1, 2018

The PTI government held a fancy ceremony in Islamabad on Thursday to announce what it had done in the first 100 days of its government.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Imran Khan shared his vision about how he wants to empower rural women and give them the freedom that usually comes with the financial independence. His plan for women empowerment: give them desi chickens and eggs.

He said that his government will provide women eggs and hens to help start their own poultry businesses. “The things that I’m telling you don’t even need millions of dollars,” the premier said enthusiastically.

Related: After 100 days, the PTI government is all about promises

He said the government has already conducted a successful pilot project. We will provide them injections to help them grow the chickens faster, he added. The project would also help address the issue of malnutrition as people would have protein in the form of eggs and chicken to eat.

Some people criticized for what they said was a rather simplistic approach towards poverty alleviation

But the prime minister found support from unexpected quarters.

The prime minister expressed annoyance at his critics saying that they have “colonised minds.”

What is Bill Gates’s chicken and egg idea?

In 2016, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced a programme to help alleviate poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa by giving extremely poor families chickens. He promised to donate 100,000 chickens.

Gates argues that the chickens are easy to breed as most easily survive by eating whatever they find on the ground. All they need is a shelter to nest and a few vaccines against diseases like Newcastle disease.

He said that if one starts with five chickens, they can have a flock of 40 within three months. This would help keep children healthy as they would be having nutritional food. Farmers will also be able earn extra money by selling these chickens, he had said.

Is it workable?

The idea has a great appeal: minimal investment, low maintenance and high profit returns.

But there are few things that need to be taken into consideration. When the chicken population increases, how are these farmers going to arrange feed for them. And, while you can easily keep four to five chickens at your house, it won’t be manageable to keep a large flock of say 100 birds. You’ll need a lot of space to keep these animals.

Another question that arises is how these small farmers are going to compete with commercial poultry farmers, as economy of scale will always be a big factor. And with the influx of more chickens in the market, the law of demand and supply dictates that the prices are bound to drop, leaving little margin of profit for these farmers.

But despite all these reservations, it’s a good move on the government’s part. Even if it achieves the goal of addressing of malnutrition in children, it should be considered a success.

 
 


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