Small Scale Egg Production (completed)

Assessing the effect of sustainable small-scale egg production on maternal and child nutrition in rural Zambia

Small-scale egg production facilityAnimal source foods (ASF), such as meat, milk, and eggs, are rich in nutrients critical for growth and cognitive development; yet, for many children in the Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, ASF consumption is limited by cost, caregiver knowledge, and local availability. Previous livestock interventions in resource-poor settings have demonstrated limited nutritional impact, in part because livestock producers prefer to sell animals and their products, rather than consume them at home. Building off this knowledge, we have developed a livestock intervention that uses a community-based agribusiness model to change the food environment in the community as a whole.

This intervention, delivered through the skilled agricultural extension staff of our local partner, COMACO, supports 24 semi-intensive egg production centers throughout the Valley, each owned and operated by 4-5 trained “egg producers” from the community. In the first year of implementation, the program was productive, profitable, and widely acceptable to egg producers, all of whom plan to continue production in future years. These findings suggest that the model has the potential to sustainably provide ASF to rural, low-income communities long-term.

Repeated cross-sectional data were collected in ~800 households in project and control communities over two years to investigate the program’s impact on egg consumption and dietary diversity. Initial results demonstrate that the program successfully increased the acquisition of eggs by households located around the egg production centers, as well as the consumption of eggs by women and young children. Ongoing work aims to expand the program in its second year (2017-2018).

Local eggs for nutrition

Research Team: Alexander Travis (Baker Institute for Animal Health, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine), Sarah Dumas, Rebecca Stoltzfus.

Partners: Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), CARE Zambia.

Funding: Funded by The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, National Institutes of Health Training Grant (T32 OD 011000).


Dumas SE, Kassa L, Young SL, Travis AJ (2018). Examining the association between livestock ownership typologies and child nutrition in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0191339.

Dumas SE, Lungu L, Mulambya N, Daka W, Lewis D, Travis AJ (2017). Effect of sustainable poultry interventions on household food security and resilience in game management areas of Zambia’s Luangwa Valley: a before-and-after study. The Lancet Global Health, 5(Supplement 1), S24.

Dumas SE, Lungu L, Mulambya N, Daka W, McDonald E, Steubing E, Lewis T, Backel K, Jange J, Lucio-Martinez B, Lewis D, Travis AJ (2016). Sustainable smallholder poultry interventions to promote food security and social, agricultural, and ecological resilience in the Luangawa Valley, Zambia. Food Security, 507-520.

Additional resources:

Dumas SE, Maranga A, Mbullo P, Collins S, Wekesa P, Onono M, Young SL (2017) “Men are in front at eating time, but not when it comes to rearing the chicken”: Unpacking the gendered benefits and costs of livestock ownership in Kenya”. Food and Nutrition Bulletin.

Photos provided by Sarah Dumas