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Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!

by Corals for Conservation
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Rainbow Eggs
Rainbow Eggs

BULA FROM FIJI! 


We can finally travel to outer islands, all internal borders have been open since late last year, and commercial national and international flights have been up and running with the tourism industry reopening fully in April, 2022!  

We are now able to host our training workshops again at our Happy Chickens Farm (www.teiteifiji.org).  We just held six one-day Happy Chicken workshops at the Teitei farm in October, plus one in Naidiri village down on the coast about 45 minutes away.   A total of over 90 people were trained,  poor farmers who had already received chicks and who were harvesting eggs.  A special focus was on women,  youth, and elderly people, who learned how to better manage a flock for breeding using locally abailable feeds and inexpensive housing materials.  Most importantly, we trained the participants on how to operate the incubators that we gave out, to encourage small home businesses for women and youth farmers. 

Earlier this year we applied and received funds from the Australian Direct Aid program to purchase 60 small 48-egg incubators to set up these small businesses.  Due to buying in bulk, we were able to secure 70 incubators and have a wider impact on our local communities.

SMALL HATCHERIES -- BIG FINANCIAL GAIN FOR POOR FARMERS!

The official government poverty level in Fiji is an annual income of FJD 7,000 (USD $3,500) income for a family of six (you read that correctly – PER YEAR not per month).  Fortunately, nearly everyone has a garden, coconut trees, and access to fishing and wild foods.  In 2019, 30% of the population of Fiji lived below the poverty level!   With the closure of the tourism industry, the biggest employer, for the past two years the number of poor families has soared.  Add to that the recent food price increases, and it is becoming even more difficult for poor families to survive. 

A small hatchery business can mean a lot to a family.  Chicks are in high demand and can be sold for 3 FJD each (USD 1.50). The infertile eggs can be candled at 5 days and removed from the incubator, and are still good to eat!  This can result in an income every 3 weeks of about FJD $130, or USD $65, as well as a healthy protein source.  That may not sound like much to you or me, but it means over a thousand US dollars in income per year, increasing a poor family's income by at least 20%!  This can make a huge difference to a struggling family.

Your donations to this project have funded multiple training workshops for eligible community members as well as their transport to and from the workshop. Women and youth and older people no longer able to work heavy labor on the land, were trained in all aspects of small-scale chicken production and the operation of the incubators and took home their very own incubators to grow their businesses.


GLOBAL WHEAT SHORTAGES -- LOCAL CHICKEN FEED PRICES SOAR

Chicken feeds sold in Fiji are made from 90% imported wheat.  We have growing concerns that the global shortage of wheat will result in a big increase in local chicken feed prices.  To ensure our trainees can be as successful as possible we include the production of local feeds in our workshops and continue our coconut rehabilitation and moringa seedling distribution programs (Google Moringa!).  Stay tuned for the results in our next report!     

UPCOMING GIVING OPPORTUNITIES
New recurring donations up to $200, which are sustained for four months are matched.
Announcing HOPE FOR CORALS:  Starting January 1st and ending March 31st, your gifts of any amount will receive an astounding 300% bonus.  An incentive fund of $10,000 has been made available to Corals for Conservation by GlobalGiving in part because our work answers an urgent need for mankind and the corals which bring life. 

Your donations sustain our livelihoods chicken & egg program: providing protein sources and income!  Thank you, everyone.


Training at the Teitei pavilion
Training at the Teitei pavilion
Graduates with their new free incubator!
Graduates with their new free incubator!
One of 5 workshops at the farm!
One of 5 workshops at the farm!
Happy Chicken Training on improved housing.
Happy Chicken Training on improved housing.
Another workshop accomplished!
Another workshop accomplished!
One of the >90 people trained!
One of the >90 people trained!
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Laurenda and family and happy little chickens!
Laurenda and family and happy little chickens!

Bula from Fiji, where it is the dry season and the nights quite cool. 

Following on from our last report, farmers are now calling and messaging us in excitement to report that their chicks are now hatching!  Lurenda and her five chldren, in the photo below, are among the most impacted.  Challenged with the stress of raising small children in spite of chronic poverty,  spending two years in the hospital after gving birth to her last child, and trying to make ends meet since returning home, the hatching of these chicks offers immense hope to this family. 

Due to the higher numbers of eggs Laurenda is getting from her well-cared for flock of happy chickens, plus her early success, and with all the little helpers that are involved, we have given her a second 48-egg incubator so that she can increase production.  The prospect of being able to sell the chicks at $1.50 USD, 6-8 dozen per month, will more than double the family's disposable income. 

Over 200,000 adults in Fiji make less than one thousand US dollars per year, and this is the group we are targeting. A family of five making over $3,500. USD per YEAR is considered above the poverty line, and so we must help these humble and loving people help themselves. 

Across the wide Pacific in Washington state, the children at Camp Cascadia chose Fiji as a country to learn about.  It was week of song and sharing stories about wildlife and customs of the Fijian people.  Bula and Vinaka were often heard, and every day, the children sang "I Love Fiji" with lyrics written by our own writer/GlobalGiving volunteer, Nancy Clark and Pastor Luke who added the neighbor line and served as song leader.  It was sung to the tune of "I Love the Mountains, I Love the Rolling Hills," and the boom-dee-ah-dah part was hand jive, The children did hand motions for giant clams and coral caves and flowers, etc..  Happy Chickens was voted as the charity for the week, and the children shared their allowances, knowing that with the exchange rate and differences in cost of living, their gifts will bring much happiness and provide many chickens.

Thanks to all of our donors who have made this work possible, by providing chicks, knowledge, and transport for follow up.  You are helping deserving families lift themselves out of poverty and to become better providers for their children. 

Vinaka vakalevu!

Loloma from all the happy children and happy chickens! 

Austin 

Incubator with multicolored happy chicken eggs
Incubator with multicolored happy chicken eggs
Grandaddy Austin with grand daughter and nephew.
Grandaddy Austin with grand daughter and nephew.
Camp Cascadia in WA state- a Fijian experience
Camp Cascadia in WA state- a Fijian experience

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BULA FROM FIJI! 

Here in Fiji, at the Happy Chicken farm (www.teiteifiji.org), we can finally travel to outer islands, and all internal borders have been open since late last year, and commercial flights started in December!  So we are now able to open up our training workshops again.  We had a soils workshop in December, and we will soon have Happy Chicken workshops again!  We teach not only methods of raising chickens using natural foodstuffs, but also are encouraging small home businesses for women and youth farmers, to help provide sustainable income to island villagers. With that in mind, we applied a few months ago to the Austrailan Direct  Aid program for funds to purchase 60 small 48-egg incubators to set up these small businesses, and we just found out last week that out applicatation was successful! 

Of course, now we need to select the farmers producing enough of the the happy chicken eggs, and especially disadvantaged women and families.  In Fiji the official government poverty level cut off is $7,000 FJD ($3,500 US dollars) income for a family of six- PER YEAR (you read that correctly- not per month).  Fortunately nearly everyone has a garden and coconut trees and access to fishing and wild foods.  In 2019, 30% of the population of Fiji lived below the poverty level!  With the closure of the tourism industry, the biggest employer for the past two years, the number of poor families has soared.  Add to that the recent food price increases, and it is becoming even more difficult for poor families to survive. 

A small hatchery business can mean a lot to a family.  Chicks are in high demand, and can be sold for 3 FJD each, ($1.50 USD), and the infertile eggs can be candled at 5 days and removed from the machine, and they are still good to eat!   So this can result in an income every 3 weeks of about $130. FJD, or $65. USD, which may not sound like a lot to you or me, but it means that over a thousand US dollars income per year, increasing a poor family's income by at least 20%!  This can make a huge difference to a struggling family.

Happy Chicken Facebook, Fijian Ministry of Agriculture, and "Coconut Wireless" will spread word of free incubators for women who complete training.     

Once the funds are in the bank, we will purchase the incubators in stock and put more on order when they sell out.  The program will be announced via the Happy Chicken Facebook page, and through the Ministry of Agriculture, and the word will spread through the coconut wireless!   We will need to conduct workshops at the farm for those eligible, and that is what your donations on GlobalGiving will fund- plus transport for those who come by bus.  The women and youth will be trained in all aspects of small scale chicken production and the operation of the incubators, and then they will be given the machines! 

Global Wheat Shortages Loom--Local Chicken Feed Prices Likely to Soar

We are concerned that the global shortage of wheat will result in a big increase in local chicken feed prices,  as the feeds sold are made from 95% imported wheat.  So we include production of local feeds, and we will continue with our coconut rehabilitaion and moringa seedling distribution programs (Google Moringa!).  Stay updated for the results in our next report!     

GlobalGiving is givng a 50% bonus on your donations of up to $50--starts Monday April 4th and goes through Friday April 8th.  Your little donations sustain our livelihoods chicken & egg program: providing protein source and income!  Thank you everyone.

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Ten year old Kritik with his his free chicks
Ten year old Kritik with his his free chicks

While the Rampant Covid-19 Outbreak in Fiji is now abating, with no flights in or out for over 600 days, the first plane from the USA arrived on Friday!  With tourism stopped for so long, the economy is in shambles and thousands of former workers are unemployed.  Portable Incubators help women and youth farmers address food insecurity in their immediate and extended families

Praveena, the wife of Pranil, hatched out her first hatch on the incubator we donated in September.  This young couple with two children are organic veggie and egg farmers.  They lost virtually all of their customers when the hotels closed.  We provided the roosters that crossed with their brown layers, so the cross is an excellent egg laying breed.  We have started up two other small businesses by donating small incubators, and have encouraged another dozen or more farmers to purchase 48-egg incubators from a local source for $80.USD each, as they have mature happy chickens laying now, and as we did not have the funds for donating more. Several have called in excitement to announce the hatching of their first chicks. We have applied for a grant to purchase 60 of these machines to give out to the best women farmers, if the grant goes through.  In the meantime, your gifts make our gifts possible!  

In the present economic crisis, the demand for chicks is far too high, and we sell the chicks at cost or below cost at the gate and over the farm fence, everyone wearing masks.  Several others have called me in excitement that their chicks are hatching now!  I can now visualize a time when the demand for chicks can be met from the small farmers, and I can then focus on breeding and improving the chickens to provide improved broodstock for the farmers, who then focus on production of the thousands of chicks required to meet the local demand.

Once we have the resources for more incubators, we plan to give them out based on identifying those who are most successful, and who can post photos of their healthy and happy chickens on the Happy Chicken facebook page, to get more sharing going.  It is encouraging to see the impact of the work.

Local Farmers Eat the Biggest Birds Contrary to Best Breeding Practices: The remedy--One-day Workshops Coming Soon  The problem with local chickens is that the farmers have a practice of eating the biggest and best, and saving the small scrawny roosters for breeding - reverse selection - so we will be conducting one-day workshops for all those who will receive the incubators.  Presently, I give every buyer some tips over the fence on how to select the breeder roosters, how the females can lay for three years, how they often go broody towards the end of lay, what moulting involves, ect. 

Pandemic Drives Need for Returning to Farming:

Farming in Fiji has gotten a BIG push from the pandemic, as since tourism died, there is no alternative but to return to farming.  Thus, young hotel workers are now farming for the first time in their lives, helped by their own aging parents and grandparents.  The average farmer in Fiji makes under $10,000 USD/year, and the official poverty line is $3,500 per year for a family of five.  Most of what people eat they raise themselves.  

We are surrounded by hard-working people who are in need regardless of their daily struggles.  Chickens add protein and diversification to the small incomes of farmers.  In spite of finanical poverty and simple lives, there is a high level of happiness.  Joy abounds when people work together and share surplus resources with their neighbors.

Promoting Sustainable, Permaculture Farm Practices:  Sharing Methods for Success

Our philosophy involves intercropping corn with cassava as a free short-term crop, and to plant coconuts on all East-West boundaries.  That way the main crops won't be shaded.  The banana and fruit trees complete the understory in that hedge.  Also, moringa trees, with their high protein leaves for human and animal feed thrive.  These are all wonderful feed resources for chickens.  But deeds speak louder than words, so we have demonstrated these methods here on our farm, and many are emulating the models.  In 2021-21, we gave out over 4,000 coconut seedlings to our happy chicken farmers.

40,000 Chicks Distributed and Looking forward to 2022:

Much has been accomplished, with over 40,000 chicks distributed throughout Fiji.  25 dozen were produced weekly from June through October.  Now, as summer arrives in the Southern hemisphere, those numbers drop to 12 dozen per week.  Our focus has changed to helping women farmers and youth who wish to start their own small hatchery businesses.  This will allow us to put more effort into improving the breeds, and on encouraging the diversification of what is available locally.

Loloma levu, and thanks for helping us accomplish these victories!  Many lives have been touched.  As the new year dawns, may you and your families all stay safe, should the new variant come into your country,

Austin

  

The happy hens are beautiful
The happy hens are beautiful
Praveena and helpers with their first hatch
Praveena and helpers with their first hatch
Chicks and children both give hope for the future
Chicks and children both give hope for the future
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My best Happy Chicken helper Kiki on a rainy day
My best Happy Chicken helper Kiki on a rainy day

Even While the Delta Variant Ravages Fiji, Happy Chicken Eggs Bring Hope & Help Neighbors

After a full year for our island nation of Fiji being Covid-19 free, a massive outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 hit us in April, killing several hundred people so far, including three pregnant mothers, an 11-month old, and multiple teen-aged youths, with over a thousand new infections reported every day.  The government has reacted with a mass vaccination program and by implementing a system of regional lockdown zones to slow the spread.  The main island is sealed off from the rest of the country, and that has thankfully confined it for now, and the severely impacted capital city, Suva, has been shut off from the rest of the island as well.  Fiji has limited hospital beds and supplies to confront the emergency, thus Fiji's healthcare system is now being overwhelmed.   

The tourism industry, Fiji's biggest employer has been completely closed for over a year now, resulting in massive unemployment, and shipping and local distribution of food supplies has been disrupted.  The next scheduled passenger flights into and out of the country are in November.  Rural families have turned to farming and fishing to meet their needs, while urban dwellers are in serious condition, as food is becoming hard to find for many families. Unable to return to their traditional villages, these unfortunate families are trapped in the urban area due to the lock down.

Our neighborhood and the Happy Chicken farm were also locked down due to a local outbreak. When the first major cluster hit our province,  Isimeli, one of our Happy Chicken farmers, was infected and isolated thankfully he has since recovered.  With our hatchery hatching about 20 dozen chicks per week, we could not distribute the chicks for over two weeks, so rather than setting the eggs in the incubators, we closed the hatchery and gave eggs to neighbors who have children, receiving abundant vegetables as gifts of appreciation.  We were also stuck holding several hundred chicks, which we had to raise up.  We have distributed many to families in the immediate neighborhood as four-week olds, and we selected the biggest chickens and are now raising over a hundred as new breeding stock for the farm.

Last week, the local check point and road blocks into Nadi and Lautoka have all been lifted, in spite of the continuing cases, and so we have been able to reopen the hatchery again.  We have been selling eggs and chicks at cost and giving extras as gifts over the fence to those who can come by their own means.  We are staying cautious, waiting for our second jabs to take effect, especially since we have a new grandbaby and her 8-year old brother, plus a 5-year-old, 2-year-old, and 15-year-old living here who are too young for the vaccinations.  Several staff members and family have moved to the farm during the danger period, staying in our former homestay cottage: for a total of seven adults and five children. The children are enjoying helping with the chickens and playing together in our secure and happy bubble.  We don't expect schools to reopen until after the new year.   

 I decided not to go to town at all for chicks sales and so I called two people from Nadi who had wanted six dozen each, and the rest local people nearby, and I gave away two dozen to very poor people--22 dozen this week.  I also sold one dozen new ducklings to neighbors- two ducklings for $5 USD.     

I have saved a dozen chicks to give to Charley, who lives about a mile away from us.  He has a disfiguring skin condition, and is also quite poor.  He LOVES chickens and has raised them in the past.  I have saved out some of the more interesting ones for him. 
11 new cases today, and not linked to any known cases, all cases in the past week have been in the Suva metropolitan area.  But many swabs are now being processed, a backlog due to the CDC here getting two positive cases among the staff.   WILL THIS NEVER END?  
I set some blue and green eggs in a small incubator the week after the crisis started, and they started hatching today- I will raise those up to increase the diversity in the eggs colors, as the people here love that, and we are the only source of those colors.  Big chickens that are beautiful and that lay lots of beautiful eggs is the goal. 
We have had some unseasonably heavy rain, and lately I've had to cover the chicks at bedtime since the temperature dips to 55 degrees overnight.  
 
Here's a Page out of How to Intercrop Corn with Cassava like the "Three Sisters" Native American Way
In some areas of the world, corn is being planted after slash and burn methods, and the ground does not hold water and is turned into a hard pan akin to concrete.  In these situations, it is not corn that is the villain, it is the horrible and unsustainable methods they are using.  The native Americans never would grow corn that way, they would intercrop with climbing beans and wandering squash in between the rows - the "three sisters".   And they would not burn the residue, but leave it to decay into soil.   
Here at the farm, we intercrop the corn with cassava which is perfect, as the cassava is not harmed but the corn likes it, as the cassava shades the soil and so there are no weeds, so it grows better in cassava, which is a 12 month crop, while corns is picked at 3 months, so it really increases the amount of food produced per acre with minimal increase in labor.  With all the indigenous people growing cassava (manioka, youka, tapioka) if they also intercropped corn we could have as much as 20% more food here in Fiji.  Great for the chickens and also people.  I have started making hominy out of our dried corn grown on the farm, and experimenting with cooking it different ways so that we can teach others.    I want to order some new open pollinated varieties for the farmers here.  We had blue corn at one point and it was super but we lost it after a three year drought and a horse which ate our plot planted as seed corn.  
School Canceled, So Grandson is Home Helping with the Chickens and Farm
Well, my young grandson Kiki is happy because they cancelled school for another month, and he can stay home and help with the chickens. Sadly, there were 11 new Covid cases yesterday.  They cancelled the two cargo flights yesterday- one from NZ and one to Vanuatu.  We gave away 5 laying hens to a neighbor family with two small children who had lost all their income- the father was a cook in a resort, and the grandfather worked for us as a carpenter, but he is quite sick- had an operation right before the new outbreak.  The son has planted a big crop so they will be okay once that comes in-in a few months.   We also gave away six 5 week old chicks to a poor family- disabled father and elderly mother and the wife and nephew.  Also, lots of eggs are going out.  
I am growing up the 100 or so 5 week old chicks to be used to select new breeding roosters and hens from.  I already gave away 40 or so of the smaller ones to needy families, keeping the bigger ones and I will do more sorting and elimination and donations as they grow, selecting for size and ability to thrive.  They are in mobile pens that I move every morning and afternoon over the grass and so they are eating lots of good greens- they will strip it down to the dirt if I leave it for two long.
I also am eliminating the laying hens that are smallish, and any hens that have stopped laying (which can be determined by the pelvic bones), will become dinner for the farm, or sold or given locally. 
I plan to go through today and select 16 of the very biggest hens and to pair them with my biggest two roosters, and to start collecting those eggs for hatching, trying to re-constitute the Kabir breed of chickens, which no one can get and I am the only one who has it in Fiji- most of my chickens are mixed Kabir.  
I also have some very pretty amazing feather patterned hens that I will make another flock with, and put the prettiest rooster with and hatch those out. 
Oh what fun, and Kiki helps me a lot. Meet Kiki (Keith) doing string figures. https://keithdotfun.wordpress.com/2021/05/23/string-figures/
Loloma,
Austin
Organic chicken farmer's first hatch
Organic chicken farmer's first hatch
Neighbor Praveena with first hatchlings
Neighbor Praveena with first hatchlings
Downy soft ducklings in basket
Downy soft ducklings in basket
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Organization Information

Corals for Conservation

Location: Samabula - Fiji
Website:
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Project Leader:
Austin Bowden-Kerby
Samabula, Fiji
$43,814 raised of $55,500 goal
 
409 donations
$11,686 to go
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