May 21, 2021
By Janice Biehn
Esthela Palacios is counting her chickens before they’ve hatched.
As a participant of ECLOF Colombia’s 2021 project, “Good poultry practices – The Happy Hen,” she has been given an opportunity to earn more money for her family.
PWRDF is funding this project that supports people from rural communities, as they recover from the effects of the pandemic.
COVID-19 significantly affected the local economy, even in the countryside, as restrictions on mobility have made it difficult to get products to market. Crops have been lost waiting to be taken out of the communities. ECLOF Colombia has continued to support rural communities with training and technical assistance and promoting new opportunities.
And thus the Happy Hen was hatched. It is a system of farming egg hens that provides an area proportional to the number of birds so that hens graze freely. It also includes a shed that guarantees safety for hens and therefore reduces animal stress. The hens eat, drink and move in and out of the shed, and also have a comfortable area to lay their eggs.
Esthela lives in Sotaquirá, Boyacá, with her husband, four children, a grandson and cares for her 90-year-old mother. Their family farm includes a small shop. She also grows corn and has two dairy cows which she milks every day, selling the milk to her neighbours. She has already obtained three credits from ECLOF for learning how to produce organic fertilizers, biosecurity protocols in COVID-19 prevention and now in good poultry practices.
The “Happy Hen” training session motivated her to participate in the program, and so she received a credit of COP$3 million ($993 Cdn) to get started. ECLOF granted technical assistance, and supported her adjusting the shed and the hens’ grazing area.
“My hens are very pretty, behave well and are already starting to lay their first eggs,” Esthela says, adding her gratitude for this project that is giving a new light of hope in her home. She also says that eggs are a hot commodity in her community, so she sells the eggs the same day she collects them.
This program is specially designed for women in rural families. It has a low initial investment cost and can generate additional income as well as improve the family’s nutrition. The pandemic has limited ECLOF’s abilty to fully develop the program, but it plans to do more in the coming months as restrictions eventually ease.
ECLOF Colombia will continue to seek out opportunities that provide income-generating alternatives for rural families amid the challenges still being faced by COVID-19 in the country.
– with files from Jeannethe Lara, PWRDF Development Program Coordinator