Inflation and supply line disturbances have made fertilizer unaffordable in Malawi. To help address this problem, YPI is supporting the development of cooperative chicken projects, beginning in the Mangochi region. Chickens produce a high-quality manure, are inexpensive to raise, and are a prized source of protein. Unfortunately, most village households cannot afford to raise and maintain their own chickens in a secure location. As an approach to this issue, YPI has established alliances with village chiefs, who are offering land and protection for large chicken coops maintained by community members. YPI staff and villagers collaboratively develop a set of protocols that involve construction of the coop, maintenance of the chickens, which are all broilers, and a schedule of reinvestment by community members to sustain the initiative. Every six weeks, some of the 60 -100 chickens that have reached maturity are either consumed or sold, with a portion of the proceeds placed in the project fund. At least ½ ton of manure is produced every 6 weeks, enough to permit organic fertilization of village plots throughout the year.
YPI provides sufficient funding to build the coop and to purchase and feed two flocks of chicks over a period of 12 weeks. It also offers technical assistance on the care of chickens, their marketing, project budgeting, and the development, storage, and use of the resulting organic fertilizer. YPI began this initiative in July 2022 with a pilot project in Mkali village, which is already well on its way to sustainability. The coop was built in two weeks, and in the following 6 weeks the first 62 chicks were marketed or consumed. Each participating household has, with this first flock: received at least 60 pounds of fertilizer for its plot (improving both soil fertility and water retention); benefited from increased protein and a new source of income; and contributed to the project sustainability fund. The cost of this pilot project was $800. YPI’s staff has identified other villages ready to replicate this model and expects to fund at least 10 more sites in the next two years.