Economic & health impacts of vaccinating poultry against Newcastle disease in Burkina Faso

In honour of World Veterinary Day (29 April), GALVmed would like to thank its many partners and veterinarians who ensure our programmes reach small-holder farmers in Africa and South Asia.

We share insights from two of our veterinarian partners in Burkina Faso who are working to tackle Newcastle Disease – a deadly disease that can kill up to 80-90% of a flock.

The annual global event, hosted by the World Veterinary Association, aims to highlight and promote the different facets of work performed by veterinarians and to raise awareness of their contributions to improve animal health and welfare as well as public health.

For more information on our work, visit our website.

Creating innovative livestock health care products & services targeted to smallholder farmers

Livestock production in smallholder systems exists throughout the developing world. Livestock contributes considerably to the livelihood strategies of the poor and can be an important source of income and nutrition.

However, smallholder farmers consistently battle livestock diseases, most of which are preventable with vaccination. The challenge has always been a gap in product and service provision that is targeted mainly to the smallholder markets, as big pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to invest in these markets for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons have been: the smallholder market is difficult to penetrate, requires time and is often non-profitable. But the smallholder market is undoubtedly still a large one, supporting the livelihoods of 600 million poor smallholder farmers in the developing world. This market is increasingly becoming more organised to tap into products and services offered by pharmaceutical companies.

Consequently, it is crucial that animal health products and services be made more available and accessible to this market. This demand requires manufacturing innovations to produce products that are adaptable to smallholder farmers who own less livestock and cannot afford to buy products in bulk like commercial farmers.

The Global Alliance for Livestock and Veterinary Medicine (GALVmed) has been pioneering such innovations through global partners to address these livestock health issues facing smallholder farmers.

GALVmed and its partners’ initiatives develop livestock health products for the smallholder market while finding efficient and profitable ways to deliver these products and services to farmers.

For example, to combat the deadly Newcastle disease, GALVmed worked with partners, such as Hester Biosciences Ltd in India, to make available a low cost thermo-tolerant vaccine in small dose packs. This vaccine has widely been adopted by smallholder farmers in India.  The adoption has been attributed to adapting the vaccine attributes (thermo-tolerance and pack size) to smallholder farmers’ needs, and identifying and strengthening  a profitable and sustainable value chain for the product.

“Since October 2014, approximately 46 million doses of the ND vaccine have been delivered to over 700,000 households in the three states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh – covering 42 districts,” said Dr Rahul Srivastava, GALVmed’s Market Development Officer for South Asia.

Photo credit: Indian Immunologicals Ltd. Cysvax PC vaccine available in India.

GALVmed and its partners have also introduced another novel vaccine targeting porcine cysticercosis (PC), which can lead to a preventable form of epilepsy in humans and production losses for smallholder farmers. The disease is mostly prevalent in places where sanitation is poor, thus affecting many smallholder farmers in rural communities.

Professor Marshall Lightowlers of the University of Melbourne developed the first vaccine, named TSOL18, for PC. It is now commercially produced by Indian Immunologicals Limited under the brand name Cysvax – the first-ever licensed vaccine against PC – and now available in India and expanding soon into other South and South East Asia markets.

The first PC vaccination project, held in Nepal and overseen by our partners Heifer International Nepal, vaccinated more than 500 pigs by February 2017. During this project, surveys indicated that smallholder farmers are willing to purchase the vaccine together with a de-wormer because of the health and economic benefits associated with the products.

These initiatives clearly demonstrate that the smallholder market is a viable one and innovative products targeting them will not only be profitable but sustainable.


Thorton, P.K. (2010). Livestock production: recent trends, future prospects. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 365 1554 2853-2867

Written by: Prasenjit De of Alternatives for GALVmed

Edited by: Beatrice Ouma, GALVmed’s Communications Manager

How Brucellosis infection can impact the food chain

GALVmed is implementing AgResults’ US $30 million Brucellosis Vaccine Prize competition, aimed at incentivising the development of a suitable vaccine that is efficacious, safe and viable for use against Brucella melitensis in small ruminants across the developing world.

Brucellosis causes abortions, infertility and other issues in livestock – and is the most common zoonosis, with approximately 500,000 new human cases reported each year. It remains endemic in a number of developing countries, with the impact to smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia estimated at US $500 million per year.

Here, we speak to Dr Sascha Al Dahouk, Scientific Director at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin and Professor for Internal Medicine at the RWTH Aachen University, about the ways in which brucellosis infection can impact on the food chain – increasing the risk of disease across borders.


Indigenous poultry keeping is a growing business in rural western Kenya

Increased access to Newcastle disease (ND) vaccine, especially the thermo-tolerant I-2 ND, is boosting backyard indigenous poultry farming in Ugunja, a small market town in Siaya County, Kenya – near the Ugandan border. The I-2 ND vaccine, when administered regularly, has reduced significant poultry losses caused by this fatal disease, which can wipe out 80-90% of infected chicken flocks.

Access to the vaccine has been facilitated by, among others, the Global Alliance for Livestock and Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) – a non-profit company that makes livestock vaccines accessible and affordable to smallholder farmers in Africa and South Asia. GALVmed works through vaccine distributors in Kenya and links them with local agrovet outlets. Vaccinators, government extension agents and farmers can access the vaccine from outlets spread throughout the county. Locally, a vial of 50 doses costs vaccinators Ksh100 ($0.97), and farmers can purchase a single dose for Ksh2 (US$ 0.02).

Success stories from smallholder livestock producers

Raymond Sulwe, a recently retired accountant, recalls how ND mostly wiped out entire flocks of indigenous chickens at his home in Hawagaya Village when he was young. However, since December 2016, Sulwe has reared over 100 improved indigenous chickens with superior traits such as fast growth rate and high egg production. During this time, Sulwe has also vaccinated his chickens against ND three times and has not lost a single bird to the disease.

“I have not experienced it [ND] but that’s because I’ve protected them through regular vaccinations,” says Sulwe. But he has seen his neighbours struggle with ND, which he attributes to a lack of knowledge on vthe importance of vaccinations. The increased availability of the ND vaccine has made Sulwe confident about his future in farming. He aims to expand his poultry enterprise to 1,000 birds and tap into Siaya County’s rapidly growing market for indigenous chickens.

This rising demand for indigenous chickens in Siaya has made Francis Odiwuor, a freelance consultant and part-time poultry farmer, more vigilant about vaccinating his flock against ND. At his farm in Sirang, Odiwuor currently rears approximately 1,400 birds of improved indigenous breeds including Kenbrew, rainbow rooster and Kuroiler – having started with just 40 in 2010. Through years of vaccinating his chickens, Odiwour learned that ND vaccinations should begin when chicks are just seven days old and continue, every three months, until they are sold. In the last five years, Odiwuor has seen demand for indigenous chicken breeds increase by over 30%, and he makes a 30% profit on his total costs. “They give better margins and are easier to sell in the lower pyramid [to rural people with low incomes] of the market,” Odiwuor says.

For George Omondi, a full-time crop and poultry farmer from Manyala Village, access to the I-2 ND vaccine from agrovets like the Hodari shop in Ugunja town, has diminished his concerns during ND outbreaks. Omondi rears 200 indigenous chickens and states, “I vaccinate on schedule against ND, that’s why I have never witnessed it, not even among neighbours as most people here vaccinate.”

According to Evelyne Otieno, Operations Manager at Hodari Agrovet, increased ND vaccinations in recent years has been due to ongoing aggressive awareness campaigns since 2012, carried out by organisations such as GALVmed and Technoserve (international non-profits that promote business solutions to poverty), and Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture. Support services for poultry keepers Hodari Agrovet provides extension support and livestock management advice to their customer base of roughly 2,000 farmers, spanning a 30 km radius. Hodari Agrovet sells much of its I-2 ND vaccine to poultry farmers at twice weekly local markets. According to Dr Julius Owade, Managing Director at Hodari Agrovet, 40% of its products sold are poultry-related due to the dominance of poultry farming by the local community in recent year.

In 2012, Hodari Agrovet sold between 200 and 300 doses of the I-2 ND vaccine weekly. This increased to around 2,500 doses in 2017. Monthly sales of poultry feed have also increased from less than one ton (eight to ten, 70 kg bags) in 2012, to 12 to 15 tons by March 2017. “The population of poultry in this area has grown and our turnover is highest for poultry products,” says Otieno.

Due to the economic importance of indigenous poultry farming, rearing methods in the local community have changed. According to Otieno, local chicken farmers used to keep poultry under almost zero input systems with little or no feed supplements and housing, but today farmers build sheds in which to keep their birds and have increased their uptake of improved indigenous breeds and commercial feed.

Hatching eggs from improved indigenous chicken breeds are in high demand and are costly. A tray of 30 eggs that are less than ten days old, and can be incubated for hatching, cost Ksh600 (US $5.80) whilst eggs for consumption (which are over ten days old and therefore less likely to hatch) cost Ksh300 (US $2.90). Local hatcheries, with the capacity to hatch over 6,000 chickens, have also sprung up in Ugunja to cope with the increasing demand. “Hatching is another niche for making money here,” says Otieno.

Increasing the reach of the vaccine

To keep up with Ugunja’s rapidly growing niche of indigenous chicken rearing, Otieno and Owade attended training on how to preserve the vaccine at the right temperature to ensure its efficacy when vaccinating the chickens. The training was facilitated by GALVmed and raised Hodari Agrovet’s profile locally. “Farmers insist on getting vaccines from us because of our knowledge on proper handling (of the vaccine),” says Otieno. As a result, in a week, they can sell up to 5,000 doses of livestock vaccines to local customers.

Women traditionally rear chicken in Ugunja and according to Otieno, represent about 65% of I-2 ND vaccine buyers from Hodari Agrovet. The rest are youths, middle aged men and the elderly. The aim of Hodari Agrovet is to purchase a four-wheel drive vehicle with refrigeration capacity, which would enable them to reach more farmers in rural parts of Ugunja to avoid compromising the vaccine. According to Owode, in order to increase the reach of the vaccine, more local vaccinators need to be trained in providing and maintaining ND vaccinations.

Written by: James Karuga, WRENmedia consultant

Why is livestock part of the greatest enterprise on Earth?

At GALVmed, we work with partners to makes livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics accessible and affordable to smallholder farmers in Africa and South Asia.

But why livestock vaccines and health products?
Why neglected animal diseases?
And why focus on smallholder farmers specifically in Africa and South Asia?

Watch the video and find out why this work can make such a big difference. To learn more about our work and our partnerships, visit our website.