Food insecurity affects nearly 30% of the world’s population, with many of those people being food producers themselves.

More prone to social and cultural barriers than men, women and adolescent girls are more likely to fall prey to the chronic effects of hunger. 

Globally, more than 18 million women are severely malnourished, which contributes to high instances of maternal mortality, low infant birth weight, child mortality, and child malnutrition.

The humble egg has the power to nourish those suffering from hunger and malnutrition. 

A woman gathers eggs from a basket
The goal of Hatching Hope is to improve the livelihood and nutrition of 100 million people by 2030. / Photo courtesy of Heifer International

Eggs are a host of vitamins, minerals, and protein. One egg contains 6 grams of protein, nine essential amino acids, and four vital nutrients.

Since 2019, Heifer International has partnered with Cargill on the Hatching Hope Global Initiative in countries around the world, including India, Kenya, and Mexico. 

Heifer trains farmers in India about production practices and nutrition, using accessible technology like mobile applications to educate farmers about the health benefits of eggs and chicken meat, nutritional requirements for different age groups, and the importance of equitable distribution of food among family members.

“Now I am aware that nutrition is as important as income,” said Nibedita Tudu, a Hatching Hope India participant.

“All I seek is guidance and knowledge, and from that I can construct a good fortune for my family.”

A woman holding a handful of eggs and a bucket full of eggs
The goal of Hatching Hope is to improve the livelihood and nutrition of 100 million people by 2030. / Photo courtesy of Heifer International

Heifer International also trains participants on the proper care of their animals, as well as community vaccinators to provide affordable vaccinations and deworming treatments for chickens. 

Simple solutions to ensure the health and safety of families and chickens include implementing specially designed model chicken coops that keep out predators and other wild animals, and both Quicklime dry disinfectant foot baths and potassium permanganate disinfectant foot baths to protect eggs and chicks in hatcheries. 

"We ask farmers to keep the shelter neat, clean, and dry. We ask them not to share their animal equipment, tools, feeder, water, etc. We ask them to keep separate shoes or slippers for going inside or coming out of the animal house,” said Dr. Sushmita Parai, senior program manager for animal well-being for Heifer India. “All these simple steps can help them build bio secure farms.”

A woman tends to her chickens while wearing a colorful outfit
The goal of Hatching Hope is to improve the livelihood and nutrition of 100 million people by 2030. / Photo courtesy of Heifer International

The goal of Hatching Hope is to improve the livelihood and nutrition of 100 million people by 2030. Heifer International, in partnership with Cargill, is well on its way to achieving that. 

Between 2018 and 2021, 11.5 million people have been reached, including nearly 7 million through project activities and more than 4 million through media reach. 

During that same time frame, nearly 200,00 people have increased their protein intake through poultry and eggs. 

In India, the project solely supports women smallholder farmers, contributing more than 7,200 project participants. 

These participants are improving the nutrition and livelihoods of their families in the State of Odisha, one of India’s poorest states, where between 20% and 30% of children under the age of 5 are reported to suffer from malnutrition.

A woman feeds young chickens while wearing a face mask
The goal of Hatching Hope is to improve the livelihood and nutrition of 100 million people by 2030. / Photo courtesy of Heifer International

Heifer International began working in India in 1955. It started by delivering cattle to communities through the Ministry of Agriculture. 

Heifer India has supported 755,000 families thus far by providing technical training to improve animal management and build resilience by diversifying incomes with crops and livestock.

Heifer International is also working with smallholder women poultry farmers in Cambodia and elsewhere. 

Pon Louk, from Cambodia’s Kampong Chhnang province, often didn’t have enough food to feed her family. Then she joined a farmer’s group and agricultural cooperative supported by Heifer that was offering resources to strengthen local farmers’ operations.

Through the cooperative, Pon Louk received guidance on raising poultry for business and participated in Heifer’s values training, which educates farmers on nutrition, animal management, self-reliance, and other principles that support sustainable progress. 

After demonstrating her passion and commitment, she took a $500 loan to launch her own enterprise, which would enable her to participate in the cooperative’s larger poultry operation.

“My family’s economic status [has] now moved up from poverty,” Pon Louk said. “I have enough food to support [my] children and have enough money to save. … I really appreciated the support I gained, knowledge I learnt and income I generated, because it can support my family [in] getting us out of [the] hardship we experienced.”