Gideon Anaba has been up since dawn, checking on soon-to-be hatched guinea keets, feeding grown guinea fowl and tending to customers who have come to buy eggs and birds. Ever since he retired from active service, the 64-year-old’s days have been fuller than ever. And it’s no wonder, because increasing demand has turned what was once a part-time pursuit into a booming business.
“In local restaurants, people prefer guinea fowl to imported poultry meat”, says Anaba, a guinea fowl farmer in Boku, Ghana. A favorite at roadside barbecue stands and upscale restaurants throughout Ghana, the nutritious and low-fat guinea fowl represents a lucrative business for smallholder farmers who want a low-maintenance livestock to raise.
The World Bank’s West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP), which works with researchers, farmers and others to build a food system to feed every African, is growing the guinea fowl industry into an engine of job creation in rural Ghana. Over the past two years, WAAPP has helped 80 guinea fowl farmers in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions of Ghana scale up operations. It has also revitalized production of a homegrown vaccine to combat Newcastle disease, a virus that is deadly to poultry. More than 38 million doses of the vaccine have been released to 137,400 farmers since 2013, and the vaccine is now being exported to other West African countries, including Niger and The Gambia.
Every WAAPP beneficiary receives a starter kit that includes financial support, an incubator, generator, 500 eggs, dewormer, feed and vaccines. Beneficiary farmers also receive regular visits from agricultural trainers who teach them how to care for birds so that more survive. Incubators and techniques such as housing birds to protect them from hawks have boosted the production rate of guinea fowl by more than 500%. With WAAPP assistance, farmers can now produce between 600 and 800 birds per quarter, up from less than 100 birds per year.
This can be transformational for small guinea fowl farms, where the survival rate can make or break the business.
With more birds and eggs to sell, Anaba has built an enterprise that provides employment in his community and opportunities to his family. "Before WAAPP gave us technologies and techniques to protect our birds from predators and disease, I couldn't make more than 100 birds a year. Now our losses are very few—this year alone we had over 800 birds so I hired people to help me," he says. "Thanks to income from this business, I paid my children's university bills without going in for a loan."