Despite efforts to develop intensive poultry production, family poultry (FP) are still very important in developing countries. In most developing countries, the keeping of poultry by local communities has been practised formany generations. FP keeping is a widely practised activity. More than 90% of rural families in most developing countries keep one ormore poultry species (i.e. chickens, ducks, guinea fowls, geese, pigeons, etc.), and all ethnic groups tend to be involved in FP production. Although generally requiring low levels of inputs, FP is an appropriate system for supplying the fast-growing human population with high-quality protein, while providing additional income to the generally resource-poor small farmers, especially women. FP is also a source of employment for underprivileged groups and less-favoured areas in developing countries. However, constraints facing FP production systems are related to high mortality (mainly due to Newcastle disease), housing, feeding, breeding, marketing, credit, education/training, extension and information dissemination. Organizers of FP development programmes must be sufficiently sensitive to socio-cultural and economic circumstances of potential beneficiaries. Developing schemes that aim to promote and improve the FP sub-sectorin a way that is sustainable must not underestimate the specific roles and contributions of relevant members of local communities, as well as their different gender groups i.e. women, men, boys, girls, young and old persons. Therefore, getting new information and other various interventions to the front line of production requires well-designed gender research. This work, which must be done by multi- and trans-disciplinary teams to ensure that the production environment in which FP-keeping farmers work is fully understood, helps to identify the target groups of FP producers for development programmes such as in training, extension, information dissemination, provision of inputs and credit, marketing of poultry and their products. Ways to improve the productivity of FP management systems by taking into account socio-cultural, especially gender, aspects in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages of FP development programmes at community level are also explored.
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