Kadaknath: The black chicken that's ruling the roost in Dantewada
Women in conflict-ridden Dantewada have found a new lease of life, courtesy a locally-farmed black-feathered chicken known for its flavorful meat - Kadaknath. At the farm level, each Kadaknath fetches between Rs. 400 and Rs. 900, which is about three times the price of regular broiler chicken. Here's more about the black chicken that's changing lives in one of India's most impoverished districts.
Why is Kadaknath's meat so costly?
Have you ever eaten black chicken? Would you like to try it? This is exactly why. Kadaknath meat is considered a delicacy because of its rare color, gamey flavor, aphrodisiac properties and nutritional value (it is high in protein, low in fats and cholesterol). Local to Madhya Pradesh's Jhabua and Dhar districts, it is also found in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Madhya Pradesh's very own
It's obvious to call dibs on a specialty so rare, which explains Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh's fight over Kadaknath's ownership. Both applied for a Geographical Indication tag to ensure its exclusivity and high market value. Last month, MP won. Kadaknath is now officially its own.
Kadaknath is helping Dantewada women collect shattered dreams
Presently, about 1,500 Dantewada women are rearing Kadaknath. As part of a government initiative, they get 21-day-old chicks at subsidies as high has 90% and 75% for the first and second batches. Most of these women are school dropouts, farm laborers, widows and single parents aged between 18 to 45. Thanks to Kadaknath, they are now earning enough to rain-proof homes and educate their siblings.
Saving an endangered species
Kadaknath reached Dantewada's Krishi Vigyan Kendra in 2015. They were distributed among village women for rearing last year as an attempt by the state government to preserve them. When the first Kadaknath poultry farm was set up in Jhabua, officials struggled to find even 300 birds. Now, MP's nine poultry farms produce 3 lakh birds every year, which are sold in inter-state markets.
A story of change in the face of Naxal threat
Kadaknath's success story is a part of a larger narrative. Despite the Naxal threat, Dantewada is taking sure steps towards development. The district now has a Wi-Fi zone, women driven e-rickshaws, a BPO employing 300 youths, and an education zone with a polytechnic institute, a school for specially-abled children and a vocational college. To boost tourism, Dantewada is planning homestays promising authentic tribal experience.
Here's how it all began
It all started in 2015, when the Centre announced compensation for states adversely affected by mining, given as royalty by defaulting companies. Dantewada has been receiving Rs. 70 crore annually since then to be used in its development and welfare. With readily available finance, district collector Saurabh Kumar started identifying and filling gaps in the public infrastructure. Thence came the e-rickshaws and the Kadaknath.
This story was originally written by Krutika Behrawala for Hindustan Times.