A systems thinking approach to understand the drivers of change in backyard poultry farming system
Drivers of change in farming systems are not static, they evolve. Yet, there is an underlying assumption in the literature that drivers of change are static.
This paper seeks to understand how drivers of change in Ghana's backyard poultry farming system evolve within a calendar year and examine how different production strategies contribute to the incomes of farm households.
A system dynamics model, comprising production, financial, consumption, and epidemiological modules, was developed, validated, and simulated for a 52-week period using a weekly timestep.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS
Results of the loops that matter analysis showed that from the onset of the poultry production, disease prevention at different growth stages of the chicken (especially for day-old chicks) via vaccination is a critical driver of change that has a high but short-lived dominance. Beyond the grower stage, the changes in the unit price of eggs have a relatively higher and longer influence on production dynamics than changes in the unit price of poultry meat. Moreover, the results suggest that a focus only on meat production is the most profitable strategy compared to production strategies that focus only on egg production or a mix of egg and meat production.
The findings of this paper extend the literature on drivers of change in the farming system by stressing the need to assess how these drivers evolve. The application of the loops that matter analysis in system dynamics modelling provides a framework for analysing the evolution of drivers of change in farming system.