Poultry Development Services

Helping families earn an income from raising chickens

What is Poultry Development Services (PDS)?

PDS is our ‘flagship’ programme launched in 2011. It provides the tools and training (the ‘toolkit‘) for families living in poverty to start a small enterprise from home by raising chickens and selling the produce.

To find out more about how the programme works please watch this short animated video (kindly developed for us by Bretom)

Who we target

In rural West Bengal the burden of poverty often falls hardest on women and their children. Women may be excluded from opportunities to earn money due to cultural prejudices, poor education and lack of job prospects and so have little say in household spending decisions. PDS is aimed at women as it allows them to work from home and earn money whilst also caring for the family.

Why chickens?

We chose poultry farming for a number of reasons:

  • very little land is needed to raise chickens.
  • there is a large market demand for the produce (meat and eggs).
  • anyone eats chickens and eggs whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian.
  • low risk and low start-up costs.
  • unsold produce can be consumed by the family.
  • the enterprise can provide a regular income over an extended period.

Impact of PDS

Our impact assessments and feedback from our beneficiaries have revealed the many benefits of the programme:

  • up to 30% increase in household income from the sale of eggs and mature chickens
  • women become empowered by the ability to earn money for themselves
  • women invariably use their earnings for the benefit of the whole family
  • children benefit from better access to education as there is money to pay for school uniform and books
  • families have a healthier diet – chicken and eggs are a great source of protein
  • more money is available to pay for basic household expenses, reducing the need to rely on unscrupulous money lenders.
  • the skills learned and profits earned can be used to start a new enterprise
  • PDS aims to promote enterprise and entrepreneurship so we ask all our farmers to make a small financial contribution (currently 450 rupees = c. £5) to the cost of each toolkit (c. £15)

When I visit poor communities and speak with women about their lives, they tell me about the daily struggle to give their children a chance at a better life than they had. And a lot of times, one of the most powerful weapons in that struggle is a small flock of chickens.
Melinda Gates, Co-chair, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

What’s in the Poultry Toolkit? What’s in the Poultry Toolkit?

Meet some of our farmers


I had no way of earning before Shivia introduced me to poultry farming. Now I am a full-time provider for my family and they are very proud of my achievement.…


I now have a regular income from selling eggs and some chickens. This opportunity has really changed our lives. I'm managing to buy medicines for my sick child. Thank you!…


"Before this programme we were struggling to cope and owed a lot to the village money-lender.  So much has changed for us now we are earning money from raising chickens."…


"Since joining this training programme I have noticed a great many changes…my costs are down, my yield is up and I am making a profit from farming at long last."…

  • I have witnessed first-hand how Shivia has not just changed but transformed people's lives with its livelihood programmes.
    Yasmine Hilton
    Chairman of Shivia
  • Alquity supports Shivia because they transform lives by giving people the opportunity to do things themselves and they do it with dignity.
    Suresh Mistry
    Director, Alquity
  • We were thrilled to see the impact of the work being done and to meet the team on the ground. It was truly humbling to see the difference being made to so many people by this group of highly motivated and capable people.
    Stewart Brown
    Director, Artemis Investment Management LLP
  • We are excited to support such a strategically-minded and professionally run charity that is making a real and sustainable difference. The focus and design of the livelihood programmes are simple and highly effective – and the results speak for themselves.
    Lars-eric Roden
    Director, The T&J Meyer Foundation
  • Farming is my only source of income... I registered with Shivia to learn how to reduce my farming expenses and produce better quality outputs. I am definitely seeing good results compared to previous years and have learned how to make bio-pesticides.
    AMS farmer
    Familia location West Bengal

some of our supporters