American Forces Press Service
April 28, 2008 - Chicken farmers in Mahmudiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, received the jumpstart their industry needed with the arrival of 45,000 eggs, each ready for hatching. One of many economic projects initiated by Task Force Marne, revitalizing the region's ailing poultry industry ranks as a top priority. Such initiatives play a crucial role in Multinational Division Center's counterinsurgency strategy, officials said.
The Mahmudiyah Poultry Association is one such project. It's used to strengthen the vertical market integration that will ensure the long-term success of the poultry industry in the region. To lay the foundation for sustained growth, profitability and market success, coalition forces are making strategic investments in infrastructure to implement the association's business plan. These investments include refurbishing hatcheries, upgrading feed mills to produce higher-protein feed, and renovating processing plants.
"As farmers and residents recognize the close association between increased security and their enhanced standard of living relating to poultry farming, it is likely they will reject criminal insurgents in favor of growing prosperity," said Army Maj. Jessica McCoy, a member of the Baghdad-4 embedded provincial reconstruction team, attached to the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
This first batch of fertilized eggs arrived at the Qadhari hatchery in Mahmudiyah after a long journey from the Netherlands. Over the next two weeks, the hatchery will receive two additional shipments of 45,000 and 40,000 eggs, respectively. Delicate procedures will help ensure that a maximum number of eggs survive the incubation process.
One of the association's goals is in-country breeding of fertilized eggs. By no longer having to import fertile eggs from abroad, Iraq can become self-sufficient for breeder eggs, generating lower prices over time, officials said.
The chicken farmers' hard work will pay off around May 13, with the anticipated hatching of nearly 35,000 chicks. In the weeks after the initial hatching, farmers hope to hatch another 65,000 eggs. Soon after, members of the association will pick up the young chicks and distribute them to 20 poultry farmers. The chickens will mature for an additional 37 days, at which point they will have grown into fully developed broilers. After a trip to the local processing plant, the broilers will find their way into Iraqi markets and eventually onto dinner plates in Iraqi homes and restaurants.
McCoy, a U.S. Army veterinarian who directs the revitalization of the Mahmudiyah poultry farming industry, anticipates that in one year, more than 50 active broiler farms will operate in the region. This figure represents an enormous improvement from last year, when only four farms existed.
In addition to providing a vital source of nutrition for the region, the initial investment in this industry propagates a trickle-down effect that infuses the regional economy across multiple sectors.
"Breathing life into a dormant poultry farming industry makes great sense all around," McCoy said.
Revitalizing the industry will generate as many as 600 jobs in chicken farms and potentially more than 1,500 related jobs such as employment in feed mills, transportation, processing plants and retailing, McCoy said.
"It's all about capacity building and creating jobs," said Army Col. David Brost, effects coordinator for Multinational Division Center. "To do that, you have to attack the whole poultry value chain.
"Targeting just one area will only benefit that single person and would not be sustainable," he explained. "By attacking the whole poultry value chain, everyone benefits."
(From a Multinational Division Center news release.)