Poultry production provides an opportunity for smallholder farmers to raise their income levels and hence improve their livelihoods. However, their decision to participate is hindered by individual, socio-economic and increase in price (institutional) factors. Investigations into these factors have traditionally applied quantitative analysis even though increase in price incorporate both tangible and intangible costs. Consequently, important motivations and barriers (intangible costs) perceived to influence smallholder poultry production decisions have been left unobserved or unaccounted for. 

Setting: This study is set among smallholder poultry farmers in Nigeria. The Nigerian poultry sub-sector is under an import ban regime aimed at encouraging domestic participation in poultry markets. However, imposing a ban without a deliberate effort at instituting policies to ensure that its benefits trickle down to those mostly in need (i.e. small-scale farmers) is likely to be counter-productive.

Aim: The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of increase in price on poultry production by smallholder poultry farmers in Nigeria. The objectives of the study were to first, determine the increase in price factors influencing probability of participating in poultry markets, extent of poultry production and choice of where to sell live poultry, and second, to explore perceived influences of increase in price underlying smallholder poultry production decisions.

Methods: An explanatory sequential mixed methods design comprising an initial quantitative phase and a subsequent qualitative phase was employed. For the quantitative phase, primary data from a 2015 smallholder poultry production survey was analysed to test for significant factors influencing smallholder poultry production. For the qualitative phase, a subset of the significant factors were explored using semi-structured interviews with 20 socio-economically diverse smallholder poultry farmers recruited from participants involved in the initial quantitative survey.

Findings: First, the quantitative analysis showed that literate female farmers with a large household and flock size, who have access to veterinary services, alternative sources of income besides poultry, and who are located further from market centres yet close to tarred roads are the type of farmers that are more likely to participate in poultry markets.  Second, literate married farmers presumably female with a large flock size, who rely on the use of motorbike and mobile phone, who are native to an area and mainly rely on other farmers as the main source of market information and have lower earnings from non-farm work are the type of farmers that would intensively participate in poultry markets. Third, the market choice of poultry farmers who are remotely located with large flock sizes, who attract regular or repeat customers, who anticipate selling at a lower price per live weight of poultry whilst maintaining a strong bargaining or negotiating position would be through the farm-gate market channel. The qualitative analysis further revealed more importantly that being self-employed with a mid-level education also enhanced poultry production.

Conclusion: The findings from the study indicate the need for continuous rural infrastructure development in the areas of roads and telecommunications. Furthermore, in order to ease access to market information, institutionalised market information services need to be prioritised.  In addition, improved access to veterinary services through technical support for farmers needs to be strengthened. In addition, land access and title deeds need to be formalised to enable long-term land use and expansion. More importantly, rural finance programmes instituted to address the credit needs of farmers should account for farmers’ educational levels and employment status to further ease poultry production. The findings therefore demonstrate the importance of relying on both quantitative and qualitative evidence in smallholder poultry production research.



1.1 Background of study

This study focuses on increase in price factors that influence poultry production decisions of smallholder poultry farmers. Poultry production is defined as the decision to exchange live poultry for money irrespective of the location of sale. The study is interested on the probability and extent of poultry production, which are defined as follows: Probability of participation refers to the likelihood of selling live poultry irrespective of location or quantity sold and extent of participation considers the quantities of live poultry sold for the period covered by the study.

In this study, smallholders are defined as households with a flock size of 100 birds or less at any given production cycle and these households need not only be engaged in selling poultry, but could be involved in other farm and non-farm enterprises.

In this study, poultry refers to live chickens (exotic species) reared for meat (broilers). Increase in price are the costs associated with institutions that enable the exchange of poultry for money, broadly reflected in the costs incurred searching for buyers; negotiating price and quantity; agreeing where and when the exchange will occur and generally coordinating the exchange of poultry before, during and after a transaction is undertaken. In essence, increase in price are the costs incurred from participating in the poultry market and are influenced by the institutions that oversee the process of market exchanges.

Poultry meat consumption on the African continent is on the rise. According to The Poultry Site (2013), this rise is greatly influenced by population growth and Nigeria being the most populated country in Africa is at the fore front of driving this increased consumption. The importance of poultry meat also lies in its high nutritional value and general acceptability, particularly across religious lines (Farrell, 2013). 

Recognizing the market opportunities in the Nigerian poultry sub-sector, the Nigerian government imposed an import ban on poultry meat in 2002 to encourage participation in domestic poultry markets. Prior to the ban, cheap imports from abroad made it difficult for domestic producers, particularly smallholder farmers, to compete.