Quail farming brings joy to Koraput’s tribal residents in COVID-19 times

Quail farming requires little capital and labour and involves less risk of disease, say experts

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Wednesday 04 August 2021
A quail farm in Koraput, Odisha. Photo: Ashis Senapati

The farming of Japanese quails have helped Odisha’s Koraput district to offset the effect of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on livelihoods.

Millions across India and the world have lost jobs amid the pandemic while stretched lockdowns have affected the self-employed too. 

Koraput, a large section of whose inhabitants are from tribal communities, has also been affected.

The faming of Japanese quails is gaining popularity in Koraput as it is more profitable than farming poultry, along with low farming costs and less risk of diseases, say experts and locals.

The Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS) and MS Swaminathan Foundation had procured Japanese quails from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Bhubaneswar.

They provided many women self-help group (SHG) members of the Badeheguda, Mendhaguda, Bagipada Machara, Sukrigoda villages in March 2021 to eke out a living during the pandemic. The residents of these are mostly Adivasis. 

Daimanti Chindia (38) of Badeheguda, told this reporter:

The MS Swaminathan Foundation provided 100 baby quails to our SHG in March 2021. All the birds became adults within three months and we started selling them. By July, we had already earned Rs 10,000.

Around 2,000 women SHG members in Koraput have become successful quail farmers.

Surajita  Kumari Turuk, the project coordinator of  MS Swaminathan Foundation said  that the Japanese quail was well suited for small and marginal farmers as it could be easily grown in an open space. 

“A pair of week-old chicks can be sold at Rs 20. Birds aged three months can be sold at Rs 150. The rate of a kilogram of quail meat is around Rs 300. Quails grow very fast in a short duration,” Turuk said.

Besides, quail farming was cheap and affordable as the birds ate local foods, she added.

The fear of COVID-19 was making a large number of people opting to eat quail meat to increase their immunity against SARS-CoV-2. As a result, farmers were making good money, Roshan Kumar Kartik, deputy chief executive, ORMAS, said. 

“Quail farming offers great scope and potential because of its supplementary income and additional employment to farmers. We are providing proper training and other equipment to farmers,” he added.

The quail is a small bird that belongs to the pheasant family. They were first domesticated in Japan in 1595. There are two species of quail in India: The black-breasted quail found in the wild and the brown-coloured Japanese quail which is bred for meat. They were introduced in India in 1974 from California.

Kartik noted that quail farming could play a vital role in meeting the demand of food and nutrition. This was because its meat and eggs were tasty and nutritious. 

“Quail eggs are more nutritious than other poultry eggs as they contain comparatively more protein, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, B1 and B2,” he added.

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