Kadaknath, a breed of black chicken found in Madhya Pradesh’s tribal-dominated Jhabua and Alirajpur, is now spreading its wings to other regions in the state, changing the lives of rural women who are breeding the bird.
Scores of women, including those from remote villages in Bagli in Dewas, about 250 km from Jhabua, are earning their livelihood rearing and selling the chicken, VK Singh, a scientist at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Jhabua, told Hindustan Times.
Earlier, these women were mostly unemployed or used to work as daily wage workers, he said.
Locally known as “kali masi”, the chicken is popular for its black meat, which is rich in protein, iron and minerals.
Scientific data show that the iron content in kadaknath chicken is nearly 10 times that of ordinary chicken, said Singh.
“Tribal people either procure the day-old chicks from government-run institutions like Krishi Vigyan Kendra or get it from private hatcheries.”
The nutritious chicken is now being bred in places that are hundreds of kilometers away from Jhabua, said Dr DK Verma, deputy director of state animal husbandry department.
Bagli has the perfect temperature for breeding the chicken and the department has stated a pilot project to help tribal women, which has been successful, he said. “Bagli tribal people are economically backward with most tribal male depending on farming their small plots of land, so the initiative is helping women earn money for their families.”
Women from 42 families in the district have stopped working as daily wage workers and are now rearing kadaknath chickens.
A kg of kadaknath chicken sells for `900-1200, while the other breeds cost `120-`150.
“Earlier high demand for the breed led to an alarming decline in the chicken’s population, prompting the government to announce the incentive for people who were interested in breeding the bird, Verma said.
“There is a huge demand for kadaknath in Jhabua, Alirajpur and other states and the production in Bagli will help meeting the demand,” he said.
“Eggs of kadaknath chicken, rich in proteins will be helpful to fight malnutrition amongst the tribal children in the region.”
Tribal women said the project has helped them to supplement their family’s earnings.
“We worked as daily wage workers tilting other people’s fields or worked as domestic helps, but things have changed for us in last eight months,” said Radha Bai, a resident of Sivanpani village in Dewas.
“We are earning more than Rs 4,000 every month by rearing and selling kadaknath chickens,” she said. Officials said the pilot project will extended to other parts of the district and surveys are on.
Benefits of Kadaknath
Both the meat and eggs are rich source of protein (25.47% in flesh) and iron
The black meat of kadaknath is used for curing of pulmonary problems like tuberculosis, and heart diseases and neurasthenia
The meat contains vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E, niacin, protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and nicotinic acid
The consumption of kadaknath chicken helps increase red blood cells and haemoglobin
The eggs of kadaknath chicken is used to treat headaches, post delivery problems, asthma and nephritis (acute or chronic inflammation of the kidney).
With inputs from Nitin Gupta, Dewas