Like in many other Forest Reserves, residents of Mkanga Village living adjacent to Mkingu Nature Reserve have continually depended on forests within their vicinity to satisfy their needs for wild meat as the main source of protein. T o obtain wild meat, villagers normally go into the forests for hunting small animals – preferably cane rats (known locally asNdezi). Despite being a small animal – 6-10Kg, Ndezi’s meat is much preferred due to its tenderness and delicious taste alike that of local chicken. To make the hunting job easy, hunters do not only hunt using dogs but also burn grasses to scare and easily chase Ndezi. It is the burning that results into detrimental forest fires, destroying the valuable forests and associated biodiversity, leaving the forests into patches.
To address the challenge, in 2013 EAMCEF project grant supported introduction ofimproved local chicken and brooding techniques by providing trainings to a group of25 people in each village. Of the greatest interest at the local level was the introduction of locally-made chick brooders (known locally as Vinengunengu). A startup capital of 5 chicken and a cock was handed over to each trainee. EAMCEF believed that local chicken would replace Ndezi and consequently save the forests from fire. Since then, villagers have witnessed tremendous results in the production of eggs and chicken – the use of Vinengunengu has assured raising of up to 248 chicks per chicken per year. Increased production has assured availability of protein (meat and eggs) at household and at the village levels – thereby reducing forest fire incidences.
It is the sales of chicken and eggs that has transformed the livelihood of participating villagers. Income from sales has been used to cover household needs, but most importantly covered pressing needs like school fees, health services, repair and construction of modern houses and improved toilets.
If it were not for the chicken I wouldn’t have afforded my heart treatments in Dar es salaam, they [chicken] saved my life In the past, I could only farm one acre but now I can employ casual labourers and farm up to four acres.
Before joining the project my main source of income was from casual labour – attending other people’s farms, but the income was so small and untimely. To date, through sales of eggs and chicken I have been able to buy my own farm, bought a water pump for my garden and I can now feed my family throughout the year. Through these chickens I accumulated some money and decided to construct an improved house, iron-roofed and comfortable for my family
In 2017 alone, I earned more than TZS. 700,000 from sales of eggs and chicken, used part of the money to buy a dairy cow…this would have been impossible if it were not for the chickens! Chickens can help me address my financial needs without crying out for help from relatives or neighbors.