Improving poultry productivity in Nigeria

Since July 2016, smallholder farmers in Oyo, Osun and Ogun states in southwest Nigeria have benefited from Newcastle Disease (ND) I-2 poultry vaccination and deworming. Already, the treatment is unlocking the economic potential of poultry production and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

Initiated by the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) – a non-profit organisation improving smallholders’ access to livestock vaccines in developing countries – the project was launched to control this highly contagious and lethal infection. Devastating for farmers, ND can kill 80-90% of infected birds. “The aim of the project is to develop sustainable smallholder poultry production in rural communities for improved livelihoods,” says Dr. Samuel Adediran, GALVmed Assistant Director for Market Development and Access.

Positive partnerships

John Olugbohunmi holding a client’s turkey that was wandering into the bush.

Through GALVmed’s Nigerian partner in project delivery, Bdellium Consult, young people are trained as Community Poultry Agents (CPAs). Providing rural smallholder poultry keepers with information on improved poultry management, vaccination and deworming at an affordable cost, enables CPAs to earn a living while contributing to the improved economic wellbeing and livelihood of smallholder farmers.

Morufat Adedeji, a young mother in Osun state has meaningfully increased her income since becoming a CPA in 2016. She says, “On August 8th, I participated in GALVmed training to become a vaccinator and started enjoying the benefits of the new business immediately. I encouraged a farmer with about 15 birds to vaccinate her flock and after three days, she excitedly told me she had started seeing the positive results of the vaccination and gave me a gift of a grown live chicken.” Having carried out over 1,500 vaccinations in four months at 20 naira (US $0.06) per dose, Adedeji has realised a profit of at least 30,000 naira (US $95) from vaccinations alone. “I have been getting phone calls from people I don’t know, asking me to come and vaccinate their birds. More farmers are now vaccinating and deworming their poultry.”

Another CPA, John Olugbohunmi, is an Ordinary National Diploma graduate in pharmaceutical technology who vaccinated about 500 birds in the last four months of 2016. He purchases vials, each one containing 50 doses, and sells a dose for 10 naira (US $0.03) each. After deducting purchasing costs, he makes a profit of about 250 naira (US $0.79) per vial. John says the CPA work has also provided him with extensive information on poultry keeping, enabling him to educate his clients and consider starting up his own poultry business as an additional form of income.

Spreading the word

Adedeji currently administers around 400 vaccinations and 270 dewormings on average per month, but plans to increase sensitisation of the project to poultry keepers in surrounding towns. The target is to sell 2,500 vaccine doses per month but, with referrals mostly disseminated via word of mouth, further resources are required. “I inform people generally about the programme, but would need more posters and flyers to paste so I can distribute the message further and increase awareness,” says Adedeji.

Lack of awareness is also a problem in Oyo state where Olugbohunmi operates. The free range system practised in this area means poultry wander freely and eat what they can find. Often, the poultry keepers operate a minimum input system with little or no feeding to supplement the fowls’ diets. Mindful of these challenges, Olugbohunmi is intensifying sensitisation on best practices in poultry keeping in addition to promoting ND I-2 vaccination and deworming.

Morufat Adedeji vaccinating poultry.

Saving village chickens

One poultry keeper whose 35-bird flock was vaccinated by Adedeji is Rachel Oyebamiji, a tailor and mother of six. Oyebamiji says, “I need the proceeds from selling live chickens to pay my children’s school fees. After my fowls were vaccinated in August, there have been no deaths, no sickness, and they have all grown so big. I also feed my family with some of the eggs and chickens.” Explaining her previous dilemma, she continues, “In 2015, I had 25 birds and about 10 died before I could sell them. The money was barely enough to pay my bills. But since I started using the ND vaccination, none of my fowls have died.”

The vision for the vaccine

According to Dr. Adediran of GALVmed, poultry keeping is an untapped resource that can generate employment for young people in rural and peri-urban areas. “GALVmed supports partners like Bdellium to promote awareness and set-up market networks which facilitate sustainable and affordable access to these and other products for improved livestock health and production,” says Adediran.

The project with Bdellium is GALVmed’s first entry into vaccine delivery in Nigeria, but the overall vision is to make the ND I-2 vaccine for ND control a routine practice among smallholder poultry producers, globally.

Article and photos by Oluyinka Alawode, WRENmedia correspondent

A step closer to treating nagana

Animal African Trypanosomiasis (AAT), or nagana as it is widely known in Africa, is a disease of vertebrate animals that is endemic in 40 African countries. Trypanosome parasites that affect cattle account for up to a 50 percent loss in milk and meat production across the continent. In infected animals, the mortality rate can reach 50-100% within months after exposure, particularly when poor nutrition or other factors contribute to debilitation. Trypanosomiasis is also a major cause of reduced draught power for agricultural production. With all these factors taken into consideration, the total annual cost resulting from the disease is estimated to be US $628 million.

AAT is transmitted by tsetse flies, which can be controlled by traps and insecticides. Infected cattle can also be treated with drugs but increasing drug resistance is becoming a concern. Developing drugs for neglected tropical diseases is a complex and risky process due to high failure rates and excessive costs associated with research, development and clinical studies. However, a potential new trypanocide (a drug used to kill or control a single-celled parasite) to treat cattle is undergoing early development by a major biopharmaceutical company. The identification and commercial development of a trypanocidal agent is a huge step forward in the progress towards controlling this deadly disease, which would prove highly significant for millions of smallholder farmers and for Africa’s economy.

Overcoming the obstacles

Throughout Africa, with few exceptions, governments lack the necessary resources to provide effective veterinary services to control nagana. The present priority in Africa is to promote agricultural production by applying knowledge and methods that are already available. Drugs to treat livestock infected with AAT do exist, but introduced over 40 years ago, these treatments are now outdated with under strength compounds to which the disease is resistant. “An effective treatment for AAT would be fantastic for farmers. It would mean with just one injection, animals could be free from infection for years or for a lifetime,” says Dr Rosemary Peter, Programme Manager for AAT at the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed).

the total annual cost resulting from the disease is estimated to be US $628 million.

A significant hurdle to AAT treatment development is the lack of incentive for pharmaceutical companies, who may not receive a sufficient return on their investment. “Trypanosomiasis is not a blockbuster disease from which large companies can achieve a significant profit – as a purely African disease, the ability to achieve sales worldwide is limited,” states Peter. To counter the growing problem of substandard drugs and garner interest in trypanocide development, GALVmed, a not-for-profit company that makes livestock vaccines accessible to smallholder farmers, issued a competitive call to their network of partners with pharmaceutical development experience and those with an interest in developing products for Africa. Novel drugs were tested for their efficacy against the two predominant parasite species that cause AA T – Trypanosoma congolense and T. vivax.

One major challenge to identifying a potential trypanocidal candidate was finding an effective drug. “It is difficult to find compounds that will work as very little is understood about the trypanosome parasite and the cell biology of each stage differentiation,” says Peter. However, a potential trypanocidal drug that closely fits the requirements of the Target Product Profile (the ‘wants’ and ‘musts’ of an intended commercial therapeutic, i.e. the ability to treat the target species) has been identified. The potential candidate is about to enter the final stages of testing by GALVmed’s pharmaceutical partner, Anacor.

Diagnostic project partnerships

The difficulty in diagnosing trypanosomiasis is another hindrance to its management. Not only are there no specific clinical signs but when looking to diagnose the disease, it is difficult to find parasites in infected animals’ blood (as there are generally not a lot). The only way to confirm a diagnosis in affected animals is to demonstrate and identify the parasites in body fluids. To develop a simple and effective trypanosomiasis field diagnostic test GALVmed has worked in partnership with the University of Dundee. Taking a hi-tech approach, the university research team identified the components of T. vivax, a strain which stimulates antibody production in cattle. One of these components was then used to develop into a prototype diagnostic device. This was achieved in collaboration with BBI Solutions OEM Limited, who specialise in immunoassay development which detects and measures specific proteins or other substances through their properties as antigens or antibodies. As a result of this collaboration, a simple AAT test has successfully been developed that can be used in the remote settings of rural Africa, without the need for electricity or any additional equipment.

Photo credit: University of Dundee

From a single drop of blood, farmers will be able to use the AAT test to detect, within 30 minutes, whether the animal is infected with the parasite T. vivax. A positive result indicates the presence of the disease aiding smallholders in the timely treatment of their livestock. The diagnostic is currently being tested in African labs to see how it performs.

Dr Jeremy Salt, Senior Director of Research and Development at GALVmed said,

“Such a test could allow millions of smallholder farmers an efficient way to test their cattle for this debilitating disease and give peace of mind that any subsequent treatment for T. vivax infection will be done with the certainty that the animal is infected, which saves the farmer money. This will give more control to the smallholder farmers whose quality of life has been affected by this disease that covers over 10 million square kilometres of Africa. To ensure that the final test is widely used throughout the regions where it’s endemic, GALVmed will be working with scientists, manufacturers and distributors in the 40 countries where AAT is rife to create a sustainable supply chain for the final product.”

Written by Sophie Reeve, WRENmedia

Tackling the major cause of epilepsy in the developing world

Porcine cysticercosis is a zoonotic disease, which can lead to epilepsy in humans. A new vaccine and dewormer have been registered to counter the disease in pigs thereby stopping the cycle of transmission to humans. In Udaipur, Nepal, where vaccination projects were initiated, pig farmers are hopeful that not only will the vaccine and dewormer improve their health but also their economic outlook as pigs become healthier and sell for more.

The vaccine was developed by Professor Marshall Lightowlers of the University of Melbourne and is being distributed by our partner Indian Immunologicals Ltd. The dewormer is manufactured by our partner MCI Sante Animale in Morocco.

Further reading: First ever licenced vaccine against major cause of epilepsy in developing world