MADHYA PRADESH: In many parts of the country, the colour black has been considered inauspicious. But in the forests of western Madhya Pradesh’s tribal-dominated Bheelanchal region, the same colour is ushering in fortune and prosperity in the lives of people who were once forced to work as labourers in adjoining Gujarat.
Welcome to Jhabua, Alirajpur and Dhar. These districts are dominated by the Bheel and Bhilala tribes. Organised poultry farming of the highly proteinaceous black chicken variety known as Kadaknath has changed their lives. Aged 32, Vinod Meda once drove garbage trucks in Gujarat’s Bharuch to earn Rs 8,000 a month to sustain his parents, wife and three children in Runipada village in Jhabua. In 2015, he borrowed Rs 2 lakh from a local lender to build a pucca house. Realising that repaying the loan with his salary was impossible, he returned to his village and started Kadaknath farming under the guidance of the Jhabua-based Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK). He got a loan of Rs 4.40 lakh from the district cooperative society. Six years down the line, Vinod is one of the biggest Kadaknath farmers in Jhabua and owns a big house, a sizable portion of land, two motorcycles and a tractor.
The Class XII dropout supplies Kadaknath chicks to poultry farmers and meat of the black chicken to customers across the country. His clients include star cricketer MS Dhoni and a senior police officer in Assam. Recently, Vinod personally delivered 2,000 Kadaknath chicks to Dhoni’s farm in Ranchi. “In August 2021, Dhoni’s farm staff got in touch via KVK scientist Chandan Kumar and paid Rs 1.80 lakh for 2,000 chicks. But the Ranchi-bound chicks had to be culled after catching bird flu in December. Dhoni gave me time to deliver the order, which was completed a few days back only,” Vinod says. At present, he is getting orders worth around Rs 1.5 lakh monthly.
Vinod employs five youths for transporting orders across the country. His hatchery has a capacity of handling 500 eggs and he is planning to enrol his daughter into a veterinary medicine course so that she can manage his business. In the same district, 42-year-old Veer Singh has scripted a similar story. He did not even have a bicycle a few years back, but owns two motorcycles, a tractor and a big house other than a moderate poultry farm these days. A supplier of Kadaknath chicken to hotels and restaurants, including five-star hotels in Rajasthan, he earns Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh a year.
Veer has enrolled his eldest son Bharat in an agriculture college and wants him to become a bigger Kadaknath business entrepreneur. He is also a motivator, trainer and supervisor of 106 new Kadaknath farmers and gets a handsome sum from the government for guiding the farmers. “I’ve never been to a five-star hotel, but our meat is tickling the taste buds of diners in major hotels in Rajasthan,” Veer says proudly. KVK scientist Chandan Kumar said that in 2010, organised efforts started under the National Agriculture Innovation Project (NAIP) of ICAR. There were just 300-plus birds in villages and forests of Jhabua.
Now, 300-400 farmers are engaged in farming of countless Kadaknath chicks and birds in Jhabua district alone. “Protection and promotion of the high-priced poultry variety has brought a Kadaknath revolution not only in Jhabua. Small farmers are taking a plunge into it in neighbouring Dhar, Alirajpur, Barwani and Khargone districts, thanks to multiple incentives and support of the state government. Jhabua has two big hatcheries operated by KVK and the state government’s Kukkut Vikas Nigam. Vinod Meda and Mahavir Singh Dohre are running their own hatcheries, while two-three private hatcheries are also functional. In Dhar and Alirajpur districts also, KVKs have started hatcheries,” Kumar informs.
Rs 800-Rs 1000 Price, per bird
Rs 1,500 Price in winters
750-800 grams Of meat in a bird
Why is Kadaknath special
Colour of its skin, feathers and flesh is black. Broiler poultry farming requires heavy investment, but farming of this variety can be done with a lesser sum
It has a high protein content. Cholesterol level much lower than white chicken. Due to low fat, this is considered beneficial for heart & diabetes patients