BERHAMPUR: As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect livelihood of people across the State, tribal-dominated Gajapati district has turned to the exotic Kadaknath chicken to generate employment for the people.
Keeping in mind the high demand for Kadaknath - a protein-rich breed of chicken from tribal-dominated Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh (MP) - and the low costs involved in rearing it, the district administration procured fowls in April and supplied those to women self help groups (WSHGs) for commercial rearing. The poultry breed is famous for its black meat, high protein, low fat and cholesterol apart from a distinct taste.
The pilot project is being sponsored by Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme (OTELP) of the SC/ST Development department. OTELP programme manager Pravat Kumar Ghadei said,” We started the project in April in Mohana and R. Udayagiri blocks, and recently in Rayagada block. We have selected nine WSHGs in these blocks to rear the chicken as a source of income, and provided them with 1,200 chicks with their feed for three months, free of cost,” he said.
The OTELP staff have trained the WSHGs and are in constant touch with the members to monitor the rearing process, he said.However, the latter are lamenting that they are unable to reap the expected benefits. The chicks are now grown up and weigh around one and half kg, but we are unable to sell them due to absence of marketing facilities, they said.
Apart from being confined to rural areas, the breed is also not fetching the standard market price. “In Madhya Pradesh, Kadaknath is priced at Rs 450-Rs 500 per kg but here we have to sell the whole fowl at a meagreRs 150,” said Soloni Raita, a WSHG member.
As the breed is yet to be sold in urban markets, the viability of the project is yet to be assessed. “The black meat of Kadaknath has a unique taste. The fowls are growing fast but we are yet to access the urban market,” said Surya Jani, another WSHG member.
Gajapati is the second district after Balasore to get the exotic breed as an income-generation source for women SHG members. Kadaknath is mainly reared in MP’s Jhabua and got a Geographical Indication (GI) tag last year.