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Mohammad Shamsuddoha
Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing, University of
Chittagong, Bangladesh

Mir Hossain Sohel

Lecturer, Department of Marketing, University of Chittagong,


Poultry is a substantial contributor to food supply of Bangladesh. Many small and medium

farmers are rearing poultry birds in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is considered one of the most

approp riate countries in the world for poultry rearing. Development of poultry has generated

considerable employment through the production and marketing of poultry and poultry

related products. Small improvements in this industry will, in productive and economic terms, give

substantial increases to the benefits the household may obtain from poultry, measured as a relative

increase of output. In real terms, output may go up to $150 per year—a small amount of money, but in

a situation where total incomes do not exceed $300 a year, such possibilities for improvement of

livelihood deserve to be pursued. The revolution in poultry industry has achieved more than 200

percent growth last 5 years though they are facing scarcity of efficient or skilled workforce,

mainly because of new technology using locally available feed ingredients, breeding,

hatching and other inputs. It will generate much more protein in our domestic needs. This

paper aims to identify whether poultry rearing can be considered as an alternative income

generating activity for the development of rural women of Bangladesh.

Keywords: Poultry, Rural Women, Bangladesh

1. Introduction

The Human Development Reports – 2005 of UNDP indicates that the total population in

Bangladesh is 14.18 crore at an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent. Almost half of the

population is female whose contribution to GDP per capita is US$1245 (UNDP report, 2005).

Only 25 percent (as % of total) women are involved as professional and technical workers,

but their earning is almost ha lf of the male (UNDP report, 2005).

Land and life are closely entwined in Bangladesh. Over 80% of the Country's 120 (currently

140) million people live in the rural areas and are highly dependent on agricultural system

that is finely attuned to a tropical monsoon climate (UNDP 2004). Agriculture generates 39%

of the GDP and the share of the livestock sub-sector is 2.8% (Brammer et al. 1996).

Involvement of women in all development initiatives including agriculture is seen as a

priority in the national development paradigm. Traditionally, women have played a major

role in agriculture. However, studies on various development endeavors have also endorsed

the fact that while female members of farm-based households are playing a significant role in

agricultural farm and household activities, their work loads have been consistently higher

than that of the male members. Rural women are involved in different household activities

like cooking, food preparation, child-rearing, livestock and poultry-raising, and household

gardening, which are essential for household maintenance. They are also engaged in post-

harvest activities, which includes rice processing (that is, boiling, drying and husking of


The male members of agricultural households are involved in field activities while the female

members undertake tasks like seeds preservation, and drying and boiling of paddy. Although

all these are essential for the existence of each rural household, they are not awarded any

form of recognition as these types of work do not directly generate money. Rather, in most

cases, women are treated as dependents despite the fact that they play a substantial role in

household agricultural activities. Research studies show that besides their regular household

work, 43% of women are involved in activities related to agriculture, and almost 15%

undertake agriculture as their second occupation.

Low -income country like Bangladesh has always focused on employment generation as a

crucial instrument for achieving a major development goal i.e. poverty reduction (Islam and

Muqtada, 1986). For this objective, the promotion of selfemployment or entrepreneurial

development has been regarded as more effective than industrial development (Hye, 1993;

Islam and Muqtada, 1986). Although the progress in poverty reduction in the 1990s was

notable, the incidence of rural poverty remains very high at 53 percent in 2000 (World Bank,

2002). The persistent existence of rural poverty implies that self-employment strategies have

not necessarily opened up suf ficient economic opportunities for many of the rural poor.

Self-employment promotion for poverty reduction has been administered through microcredit

programs in Bangladesh. To enable the poor left behind to participate in the rural economy as

entrepreneurs , this paper proposes an alternative self-employment approach for poor

producers. The paper develops this conceptual relationship in a real rural setting through the

observation of an income- generating program implemented by the sample respondents in the

field of poultry-rearing. This empirical form suggests an opportunity for the poor to enter into

a previously inaccessible market and gain a regular income source, which builds the

foundation of their household economy beyond subsistence.

Bangladesh is a densely populated country with nearly 854 with a population growth rate of

2.17 per annum (UNDP 2004). The per capita income is only US$ 373 and the percentage of

literacy is around 64per cent (UNDP 2004). 50 percent of the households are functionally

landless (22 percent of the households owning no land other than their homesteads and 28

percent owning only upto 0.50 acre) while 6 percent of the land owning households are

controlling more than 40 percent of the total land (Hossain 1997). About 47.5 percent people

live below the poverty line and they receive less than 1900 calorie per person per day as

against the standard of 2300 calories (HDI, UNDP 1996). In 1998-99, total meat production

in Bangladesh was 656,000 tonnes, of which chicken and duck meat contributed 154,000

tonnes, which ranked second after beef (Ref). Per capita meat consumption was only 5.12 kg

per year (Statistical yearbook of Bangladesh 2000), and per capita protein intake 63g per day

(Statistical Bulletin Bangladesh 2003), which is markedly below recommended requirements.

As protein intake is recommended to be in the range of 0.8 to 1.6 g/d per kg body weight for

humans (Anonymous 1998), this requires 56 to 112g proteins per day for a person of 70 kg

body weight. Thus there is a need to increase the animal protein production to fulfil the

demand of the people and subsequently to make them sound and healthy for increasing their

working ability. Meat production could be increased through chicken rearing, and chicken

meat is the most popular meat throughout the country. In urban or rural areas, any great

festival of either religious or social origin is unimaginable without roasted chicken. People

think that it is a great dishonour not to serve roast chicken at a festival.

In a condition, where majority of the people are landless, under privileged, malnourished,

uneducated and poor, poultry rearing can play a very important role for income generation,

poverty eradication, women empowerment, nutrition, food security and country's economical

and development procedure.

This study explores how the rural poor can participate in the rural economy as entrepreneurs.

It starts by briefly reviewing the conventional approach to self-employment promotion for the

rural poor and proposes the concept of an alte rnative approach to help the poor participate in

the rural economy through selfemployment. Findings from the empirical examination make

the alternative approach substantial.

2. Rationale of the study

Poverty alleviation is one of the major problems for Bangladesh government and it is trying

to develop some conventional and non-conventional sub sector so that rural women can

develop their poverty level by using sub sectoral Income generating activities (IGA). This

type of sub sector will be able to generate more revenue for the sake of women empowerment

and self-sufficiency. Poultry is one of the important sectors in Bangladesh, which can manage

more earnings if this industry is properly organized. That is why; Bangladesh is trying to

develop an alternative income generating activity to contribute to their own family to

overcome from poverty. This paper tried to unearth the potentiality of poultry rearing activity

as an IGA for the empowerment of rural poor women.

3. Objectives of the study

In the light of development of poultry sector in Bangladesh particularly, the objectives of the

study are

@ To explore the demographic status of the sample women entrepreneurs.

@ To identify the income from poultry rearing to support it to their daily lives as an

alternative income generating activity, and

@ To explore the economical and social benefits of the sample respondents compare to

other income generating activity.

4. Scope and Methodologies of the study

The study covered three regions of Chittagong division in Banglade sh i.e. Chittagong,

Comilla and Feni. The total sample respondents were 60 women selected purposively to

comply with the research objective. The researcher selected six villages - Sonapur &

Chagolnaiya of Feni, Madaiya & Gazipur of Comilla and Gahira & Kadurkhil of Chittagong

as the study area. Both primary and secondary data were used in the study. Primary data were

collected from March 2007 to September 2007, mainly through in-depth interviews with the

sample respondents. Secondary data were collected from different published documents of

such as Survey reports, Five Year Plans, and Statistical Yearbooks. Further, various

publications of national and international organizations like NGO Forums, CODEC, DFID,

NRI etc were collected. In the process of analyses of collected data, various statistical tools

like averages, percentages, and tables were applied in order to make the study worthier,

informative, and useful for the purposes.

5. Analysis of Findings

Socio -Economic Background of Respondents

In a socio-economic inheritance process some benefits, resources and privileges are passed

on from the father and other family members to the next generation. Entrepreneurship just

cannot be considered an individual phenomenon and strictly intrinsic to the personality

involved (Deshpande 1984). In order to measure the socio-economic background of the

women entrepreneurs, the main indicators, such as age profile, marital status, educational

level, family size and parental occupation have been considered more relevant for the purpose

of the study. The findings in this regard are as follows:

Variables Structures Indicators/Levels

Age group 10-20Years 11.67%
20-30 Years 20%
30-40 Years 43.33%
40-50 Years 16.67%
Above 50 8.33%
Marital status Married 48.34%
Unmarried 23.33%
Widow 13.33%
Divorce d 15%
Land 0-5decimal 31.67%
5-10decimal 46.67%
10-15 decimal 21.66%
Family size 0 -3 18.33%
3 -6 36.67%
6 -9 35%
9+ 10%
Parental Occupation Farming 41.67%
Fishing 28.33%
Daily Labor 13.33%
Micro business 10%
Service 6.67%
Source: Field survey

Age plays a significant role in the development of an entrepreneur. Analyzing the socio-

economic characteristics by age group is an effective approach in judging the personality of

an entrepreneur. The survey data (Table – 1) reveals that 43.33% of the total respondents are

in the age category of 30-40 years. It is the age level when women can exert their skill and

talent in any productive effort as well as seems to be more motivated to face any challenges

in building their career.

Table also reveals that 48.34% of the women respondents are married while 23.33% are

unmarried. The high rate of representation from the married women in entrepreneurship

supports the hypothesis that rural women emerge as entrepreneurs to meet the economic need

of themselves and their families.

The socio-economic survey also reveals that 31.67% sample respondents have 0-5 decimals

of land whereas 46.67% have ownership of 5-10 decimals of land.

Table - 1 also depicts that out of 60 respondents 36.67% have family size between 3 and 6

members followed by 35% with between 6 and 9. The table further reveals that 10%

respondents fall within family size of 9+ members. It is thus asserted that the majority of the

sample respondents have large family size, which, in turn, may lead to contrary to the

national family planning goal of the country.

The occupational mobility of 41.67% sample respondents is farming followed by 10% with

business (vide Table - 1). It has been reported that the parents’ occupational status is an

important source of identity of prospective entrepreneurs to develop contacts with poultry

rearing environment, which, in turn, may lead to develop women entrepreneurship.

IGA of the Respondents and Income Derived from the Activities

Income generating activities are the prime determinants of level of income. Income is the

important ingredient of purchasing ability and thereby fundamentally affects livelihood of the

target people. It is generally observed that increase in income is followed by subsequent rise

in demand for and search for quality, which pave the way towards better livelihood. Again,

the income generating activities varies based on gender and season. In this connection, we

were interested to know about different IGA of the female respondents and also the average

income derived from such IGAs per month, which is shown below –

Table 2: Income generating Activities of women respondents

Activities Frequency in %
Weaving 51.67
Bamboo works & Handicrafts 38.33
Small scale vegetable farming 28.33
Dairy or cattle raising 23.33
Source: Field survey

From the above table and figures, it is evident that the principal activity of the female

respondents, the main IGA is weaving (51.67%) followed by Bamboo works 38.33% and

Small scale vegetable farming 28.33%, etc. The average income of female respondents from

these activities is Tk 959.60.



Among several income- generating programs, this study focuses on poultry-rearing. This

economic activity is highly replicable in other Bangladeshi settings because the poultry sector

has sufficient and increasing domestic demands for its final products, whereas a successful

case of handicraft-making in a specific locality cannot be easily replicated in other localities

due to difficulties in the procurement of raw materials and limited marketing opportunities.

The researchers have observed that most of the female respondents are interested in rearing

100 or 300 chicks in its poultry hut. The female respondnet who became intersted in poultry

rearing first receives basic training on broiler rearing from NGO’s. To start the broiler poultry

rearing business, every farmer has taken loan of Tk 10000 to meet the requirement of initial

investment. Each rearer normally spends Tk. 2,000 on building a poultry hut mad eof local

matrerials like bamboo and hay (100 sq ft. size for 100 birds considering every broiler

chicken requires app. 1 sq ft each) in her homestead, Tk. 500 for purchasing other fixed

inputs such as water bottles, feed containers and kerosene lamps, and Tk. 8,170 for variable

inputs such as chicks, feed, vaccine, medicines, kerosene and litter (for spreading on the

floor), Utility bill and marketing cost. These figures changes accordin gly as table – 6 when

300 chicks are being reared. It takes about 35 days (35 days will take to have the meat of 1.5

kg per bird) to rear chicks into grown broilers in the poultry hut. After the sale, the total costs

of variable inputs and loan repayment installment of Tk. 575 (IIRD charges Tk 575/cycle on

loan of Tk 10000) are being deducted, and the of Tk 1835 is achieved. Under the revolving

fund scheme, the loan repayment completes in 20 rearing cycles and the respondent makes a

deposit of about Tk. 36,000 necessary for purchasing variable inputs per cycle after

completing 20 cycles. This means that from the 21st cycle, the respondent can operate

poultry-rearing without loan. Seven or eight cycles are repeated in a year.

The benefit from the poultry program is the profit in each cycle. If a rearer can grow 100

chicks, then expected earnings is Tk 2410 per cycle; when 300 chicks, the profit will be Tk.

6,030. These figures are much higher than their earnings (Tk 959.60) from other IGA’s which

they used to follow before poultry rearing. Even if an agricultural laborer finds a job every

day, he can earn only up to Tk. 1,000 per month. So, the income from the poultry program is

highly attractive to poor households. Although respondents were still at the stage of loan

repayment, they had experienced Tk.1,000 to Tk. 5,000 as the maximum profit per cycle even

after the deduction of a loan installment.

Nevertheless, it is difficult for the respondents to make the maximum profit constantly. As

sample producers, experienced variation in profit is fairly large among both cycles and

rearers. Some chicks do not increase weight enough in the cold season; some may die of

disease; some may be killed by foxes and aggressive cats at night.

Duration per Cycle – 35 days (App) Weight – 1.5 KG (Average)

(100 Chicks) (300 Chicks)
Particulars Amount in Tk (App) Amount in Tk (App)
Fixed Cost:
Homestead 2000 6000
Fixed Inputs (Water bottles, feed 500 1000
containers, kerosene lamps etc)
Total Fixed Cost (A) 2500 7000
Variable cost:*
Cost of Chicks (Avg. Tk 25/ Chick) 2500 7500
Feed 4720 14160
Medicine (Tk 2.50/ bird) 250 750
Kerosene and Litter (for spreading on the 300 700
Utility bill (Electricity and water) 300 800
Marketing cost 100 300
Labor cost - 1000 (for 1 person)
Total variable cost (B) 8170 25210
Selling Price (Considering 4% Abnormal 96 x 1.5 kg x 70 = 288 x 1.5 kg x 70 =
loss) (C) (Price is unstable) 10080 30240
Profit per Cycle (C - B) 2410 6030
Less Loan repayment 575 1050
Net profit 1835 4980
Source: Field survey (* Figures varies from region to region as the materials cost varies in
different regions. All figures are approximate.)


The sample respondnets are enjoying from poultry rearing as a IGA which is the yearround

regularity of income. Interviews with landless laborers in the study area, revealed three levels

of employment in a year: peak, medium and slack seasons. This seasonality in wage labor is

associated with the local cropping pattern. Unless laborers have a connection with non-farm

employers in urban areas, it is difficult to survive the agricultural slack seasons even by

seasonal migration to other rural areas with different cropping patterns. To such landless

laborer-households, the income from the poultry program is significant primarily during this

time. The poultry income for March-April and September-October relieves the rearer-

households from destitution. The average profit that the 60 rearers made was Tk. 1655 per

cycle, more than one-month full employment for a male laborer in the slack seasons (average

wage rate for die agricultural slack seasons was Tk. 30 per day). In brief, the poultry rearing

brought the participants a regular income source that enabled them to survive the slack


The second benefit is that the income from the poultry program was a net addition to each

participant-household's income because it was earned in addition to the existing earning

opportunities of the household breadwinner. Most poultry-rearing households gained this

additional income by allowing female members to take charge of poultry-rearing. Even

during the loan repayment period, the poultry income of the participant-households increased

the total household income by 91.23 percent (for rearing of 100 birds). After the completion

of the loan repayments, the contribution will increase by another 151.15 percent (for rearing

of 100 birds). If the sales of poultry droppings as a fringe benefit are taken into account, the

contribution increases further. A poultry rearer described the nature of poultry income as


"We can spend the poultry income on clothes, school materials for our children or a feast for

Eid (the largest Muslim festival), while the income of our husbands goes to daily necessities."


In terms of amount of income, poultry rearing cannot substitute for poor households' primary

income source (e.g., weaving, bamboo works & handicrafts etc.). All the

participanthouseholds have kept their primary income sources in parallel with participation in

the poultry rearing. However, the clear difference from their other income sources is that the

income from the poultry rearing is regularly repeated, whereas the other sources generate

income sporadically. This additional income enabled the poor households to start saving. The

poultry rearing approach is summarized as an arrangement to bring in a secondary income

source that builds the foundation of the household economy beyond subsistence.


Women play an important role in the agricultural sector of Bangladesh. This role

encompasses social and economic activities and duties, both within and outside the family.

Development initiatives over the last few decades clearly show that sustained improvements

in productivity and in people's lives depend upon the recognition of the crucial role women

play in production, processing and marketing in the small-scale entrepreneurial sector in the


This study has introduce d an alternative approach to self -employment promotion for the rural

poor women and has examined what form this theoretical concept takes in a real setting. As

an IGA, poultry-rearing is one of the handful activities which can able to generate more

revenue than the other activities to the rural poor women. In addition, this IGA could give

more social acceptability in a sense of self-sufficiency, generating consistent revenue, easy

mode of loan facilities, flexible mode of repayment, wastage management (poultry wastage

could be used in the agricultural land as an alternative of fertilizer or help to generate

fireworks for rural burner in kitchen). However, poultry is such kind of business which can

be done from small to higher scale basis. As an instance, if rural poor women have a capital

of Tk 5,000 they can also rear like 50 birds. Here the researcher have explored the real life

activities of sample women respondent in selected villages regarding poultry rearing which is

really helping them to think it as an alternative of other activities. This poultry rearing is

empowering the rural poor women, improving their business skills, encouraging them to be

entrepreneurs who need not to seek help and dependence from family head or other sources.

Not only that they are contributing a lot to their family in house-making, child education,

buying new cottage that are helping them to increase their existing lifestyle.

It is imperative that to accelerate its development initiative, Bangladesh needs to unleash the

full potential of its women. A social transformation must be engineered by changing power

relations within the household and society. To achieve this, the Government and its

development partners need to re-orient their programs and implement an effective affirmative

action for women.


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