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Indigenous chickens (ICS) the underutilised resource of food, nutrition security and sustainable livelihoods: a case study of Mkhambathini municipality, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

Kolanisi Unathi


This article was conducted to investigate the potential of Indigenous Chickens (ICs) to contribute to household food and nutrition security; while creating opportunities to generate livelihoods. A purposive sample of 60 households participated in a survey in Makhamabthini local municipality. A complementary six focus group discussions with participants drawn from the survey sample were conducted. Forty six households owned an average flock of more than 10 indigenous chickens. Only 58% of households consumed ICs once a month, whilst 54% households generated some sales. The main rearing of ICs was for socio-cultural value rather than for food, nutrition or economic investment. Predators and diseases were identified as the main production challenges that caused a loss of chickens whilst transaction costs and limited market access dampened profit-making efforts. Indigenous chickens form a fundamental part of African households, but are under utilised as a vehicle to achieve household food and nutrition security as well as a wealth creation for low income communities. The past interventions aimed at eradicating poverty, food and nutrition security, but without a wealth creation element have failed to combat food and nutrition insecurity. The ICs are an underutilised resource; yet, they have a potential to play a multipurpose function in eradicating household food and nutrition insecurity; diversifying household income; and creating an opportunity for the women to generate livelihood options.

Keywords: Food security, nutrition security, livelihood, underutilised resource.