Baimei needs clean water not just for their people but also for their music-loving chickens. Poultry farming is the main source of income in Baimei where agriculture is challenging for many reasons, such as low productivity caused by mountainous soil, lack of workforce, and long distances to markets.
Contracts with a Guangxi restaurant chain have given Baimei villagers a steady source of income as the restaurant buys Baimei’s chickens for their meat. And since chickens do not require large fields for pasture, and the cost of chicken feed is relatively low, poultry farming has become a popular trade among Baimei residents.
Happy chicks = better business
The flow of freshwater into Baimei chicken farms is important in order to ensure a sufficient supply of drinking water for the chickens. Equally important, however, is the general well-being of the birds, and villagers believe that listening to music makes the chickens happier. Happy chicks are healthier, they grow faster, and their meat tastes better – an easy sell to health-conscious consumers. In the video below, production team leader, Wei Guangyong, explains.
The chickens roam free in the village. Growing demand for healthy, ethically produced food in Chinese cities has created a market where free range chicken meat sells for a better price than those of caged animals. This adds to Baimei farmers’ motivation to raise free range chickens in a sustainable manner. The chicken farmers also collect chicken manure and sell it to a local manufacturer of fertilizers, thus making use of the entire breeding process. What is good for the environment, for human health, and for the well-being of the animals, is also good for the economy of individual families and the entire village of Baimei.
At the moment, Baimei chicken farmers produce about 150 000 chickens every year. Because of water shortages caused by the insufficient size of the current water storage tank, the growth potential for both poultry farming and fertilizer production has been limited. The hope is that as a result of Stora Enso’s and Kemira’s water management project, local farmers will be able to increase the number of chicken raised and be more financially independent. Once the water supply issue has been resolved, Baimei residents could be producing up to 250 000 chickens per year.
As a by-product of our project, the production of ethical chicken meat will grow in Baimei. Happy news for people, the planet – and a community of groovin’ chickens.