Case Studies

/Converting chicken litter into organic fertilizer
Case Holder:
Drukhshan e Balkh Poultry Company

Diana Hashamzadah, Owner

Converting chicken litter into organic fertilizer

Promotion of Youth Employment in Fragile Settings

Background & Context

Constant conflict in Afghanistan has rendered the security situation precarious and with an obvious negative impact on the economic and investment climate. Despite reforms to the legal and regulatory framework, there are still serious shortcomings in terms of developing the private sector, which is not yet sufficiently competitive. Years of warfare have meant that successive regimes have struggles to govern centrally and are often impotent, largely due to the lack of a tax base or a legitimate indigenous source of revenue. One of challenges is to create jobs and/or business opportunities for the nearly 400,000 people entering the labour market each year. Approximately half of the Afghan population is underemployed or unemployed, and the lack of work particularly affects women. The participation of women in the labour force is low – only 29 percent of women are economically active (consequently women headed households are the poorest in the world) and around 66 percent of this female labour force is engaged in agriculture and 24 percent in manufacturing. The majority of women still work in backyard farms with little access to markets and production networks; a challenge to developing the prospects of women in the agricultural sector is to develop linkages between commercial scale poultry factories and family enterprises.

The Drukhshan-e-Balkh Poultry Company

The private company has been active since 2001 and is registered with the Ministry of Agriculture and the AISA. There is a main office and one branch in Mazar. There are 9 staff (3 female and 6 male) and 17 poultry professional trainers (4 male and 13 female). The company has 120 contracted farmers. The company is active in the following areas: distribution of input (vaccination, feed, medicine) to contracted farms. The contracted farms produce eggs and live turkeys utilizing the feeders, machinery, incubators etc. supplied by the company. Besides production and import services, the company also works with other companies, cooperatives, unions etc. in providing poultry project implementation services, poultry training services, baseline studies and evaluation and equipment.


The Problem

A major problem in the poultry industry is what to do with the litter from chicks, as keeping it in piles close to the farm causes the spread of disease and the ensuing increase in mortality rates. This has a negative impact on income for the farmer and on human health. It also has a negative impact on the environment, being unsightly and smelling bad.


A consultative workshop was held in October 2015 between the R2J project and 11 poultry companies to focus and work jointly to improve the poultry industry. The group decided that Drukhshan-e-Balkh poultry company should go for a pilot phase to convert chicken litter to organic fertilizer. There were three objectives:

  • To establish a compost factory which would support poultry farmers as their litter would be bought to convert into fertilizer
  • To ensure access for farmers to good quality organic fertilizers at an affordable price

To clean up the environment by converting litter to compost.

Value Proposition & Activities

A training workshop for the poultry farmers was held for ten days in December 2015. The R2J project offered their technical support to this programme, which implemented technical and practical training for 12 poultry farm owners, (10 male and 2 female). A pilot phase for a research process looking into the conversion of chicken litter to organic fertilizer in the Khalid Ibn Walid district of Balkh province was thus implemented. The Drukhshan Company was considered suitable as there was enough land available for the construction of the factory and enough management staff for the initial steps. The company also had 120 contracted poultry farmers who would supply the litter and of course adequate access to electricity and water as well as good relationships with the market actors.

An agreement with the Yasamin Group Laboratory was signed to carry out lab testing on the chick litter as it was being processed. The lab completed 50 tests from the 5 treatments of chicken litter in the different phases of processing.

I am now able make money from the waste my chickens produce and I know that the organic fertilizer Druckhshan make is good for my crops. If the factory makes money, I will make money too, and be able to send my children to school…”

Bahiri Mahmood, 28, Chicken Farmer, Mazar-i-Sharif 

Learning & Results

With the creation of the factory, the farmers have seen an increase in their income of up to 30% from the selling of chicken litter. More than 100 jobs have been created, such as factory workers, poultry farmers, transportation, distribution and others. An awareness campaign has introduced the fertilizer to farmers at a district level and the product introduced on a national level through government exhibitions in Kabul. The product has been distributed to farmers with some subsidy packages and Drukhshan will have a contract with the DAIL research department to use the organic fertilizer on different crops.

This intervention has raised the profile of poultry production industries in the northern region. This fertilizer is a new product which will both serve to increase income for farmers and for the factory in its own right.