Stronger together: Mexican women form poultry cooperative, lower collective costs

In the town of Chahuites in southeastern Mexico, five tenacious Oaxacan women banded together to form the Grupo Avícola Chahuites or “Chahuites Poultry Group.”

As their families’ economic foundation, these women support their husbands and children by consistently producing quality poultry. And pooling their resources as a group is paying dividends.

Photo: Heifer International

The women first came together as participants of Heifer Mexico’s Rural Entrepreneurs project. Launched at the beginning of 2018, the programme worked to strengthen the skills and business practices of 6,125 entrepreneurs, improve production of their growing poultry farms, and enhance community solidarity.

The programme provided the women with hens, farming inputs and training — assets and knowledge they built upon when they connected with Hatching Hope Mexico. With the goal of improving livelihoods, Hatching Hope promotes the nutritional value of eggs and meat while equipping poultry farmers with the skills to scale their businesses and connect to markets. Thanks to the programme’s guidance, the women have been steadily increasing their flock sizes and honing production techniques, all in service of earning a living income.

Photo: Heifer International

And the support of these programmes is paying off: Each producer has approximately 40 hens, which lay around 90% of the eggs they bring to market. The women sell three boxes of eggs weekly at a cost that ranges from 17 to 20 cents per piece — a price point generating an average monthly income for the group of $295. Under the guidance of Heifer technicians, the women realized that together they could increase their sales and reduce their costs with collective purchases of feed and medicine. When they formed Avícola Chahuites, each of the five founding members assigned themselves a role, from treasurer to secretary to speaker.

“With the money I got from the sale of chickens and eggs, I was able to invest in a lot and buy food,” said Gabriela Mejía Tapia, an egg producer and the group’s representative.

She uses her growing poultry business to supplement her income, alongside sales from mango and honey.

Photo: Heifer International

Group Producer Noemi Liliana Rodriguez Ramos is responsible for ordering half a ton of feed from a supplier in Tonalá, Chiapas, which saves 2% of the regular cost. Under this system, the group also collectively purchases veterinary supplies and products for flock management. Buying in bulk saves them anywhere from 10% to 50% of the usual price.

“Since Heifer arrived, the women egg producers have felt very [supported] and [have made] a good impact on their [incomes],” said Mariela Gallardo, a business facilitator at Hatching Hope Mexico.

The expertise of the Hatching Hope team combined with the women’s commitment have bettered the town’s social capital and boosted farmer incomes. Because of the close collaboration with Heifer Mexico, which encourages connections between participants and other actors in the value chain, these women are building stronger, more resilient ventures — together.

This article was originally published by Heifer International.