Rural communities in Fiji rely on subsistence farming and fishing for most of their needs. Fiji was hit by a severe 190 MPH+ cyclone in March which destroyed nearly everything in villages on Koro Island, Talevu, Ra, and Northern Lau: 95% of homes, tree crops, gardens, and local chicken flocks. Last year we hatched five thousand chickens, well-adapted to local free-range conditions, and we provided them at cost to poor communities. Our goal now is to extend the work into the disaster zone.
The poultry industry of Fiji is completely reliant on imported fertile eggs and chicks from New Zealand, with >15 million brought in every year. The breeds are adapted to factory farming and do quite poorly in village conditions. Village chickens are on the other hand very hardy, but are of low productivity and produce few eggs and with light body weight, but they are able to thrive by foraging. Rural communities require improved protein sources, and heritage poultry is the best option.
The heritage and local breed crosses are highly productive and are well adapted to local conditions. They thrive by forging, and the "happy chicken" methods take advantage of this, with access to wild and local feeds thrown into the chicken yard and with the birds let out to forage every afternoon for 3-4 hours. Improved housing allows the birds shelter for rainy days and hurricanes, while providing a good environment for laying and chick hatching, as well as a collection point for manure
The cyclone has destroyed an important traditional food source for Fiji. Restoring the chickens will provide high quality protein in the form of eggs and meat and thus improve the nutritional status of at least 2,000 poor rural families or 10,000 people in Fiji that have been severely affected by the cyclone. Improved island-type chickens will be the focus, as these birds are excellent foragers and reproduce well on their own, resulting in restored chicken flocks and lasting change.