Molo Mushunu Chicken Kenya
The Molo district is located in the Kenyan part of the Rift Valley. Here the Kikuyu community has always raised the Mushunu chicken, a native breed playing an important part in local food traditions.
The area suffered badly from the violence in 2008: A number of people were killed, there were many refugees and houses destroyed and most of the cattle were killed. During the clashes, the women lost most of their animals (chickens and sheep) and are now trying to recover by gradually building up small farms again.
The Mushunu has an unusual appearance: It is a large bird with an elongated body and a completely featherless neck and head. Its plumage varies in color from black, to white, red or blue. It is very popular due to its tasty meat, excellent eggs and good brooding behavior. Its weight is between 3 and 4 kg. The bird grows slowly and only reaches maturity between six and eight months.
The farming methods are passed down from generation to generation; traditionally women and children are mainly responsible for looking after the birds.
The chickens are free range and their foraging diet is supplemented with organically grown corn and vegetables. Small pieces of aloe vera are added to their drinking water to help prevent diseases.
Chickens are usually cooked to celebrate important festivals or when there are special guests. Whether boiled, roasted or fried, the chicken is generally accompanied by rice or Ugali (corn polenta). According to tradition, women and children eat the wings and neck, the thighs are for the boys and men, while the breast is reserved for the husband. The eggs, which are small with a bright brown shell and intense yellow yolk, are used to make food such as pancakes and porridge.
The Presidium was created in 2009, following research on traditional food products carried out in collaboration with the University of Gastronomic Sciences.
Its main objective is to support local communities by providing a new boost for farming the Mushunu chicken. The first steps have been the purchase of equipment and organizing a training activity on farming and selection methods.
Some of the women from the Presidium have visited Italy, where they met producers of the Valdarno Chicken Presidium in Tuscany (a native breed in the Arezzo area). Subsequently a producer from Tuscany (Francesca Romana Farina) and an agronomist (Alceo Orsini) traveled to Kenya. These exchanges enabled practical solutions to be identified which are appropriate for small-scale activity in Kenya. Equipment has been purchased to enable the number of birds to be increased (e.g. an incubator) and to improve control of animal health. A plan was also drawn up to increase the availability of feed (by cultivating cereals and legumes, and purchasing mills to produce the feed).
The 37 Presidium producers belong to the Kihoto Self Help Group and are involved in various other farming activities.
Turi region, Molo district, Rift Valley
Presidium supported by
Lombardy Regional Authority
Stiftung Drittes Millenium
37 producers belonging to the Kihoto Self Help Group
Jane Gathoni Karanja
tel. +254 715639223