Hester Biosciences launches innovative awareness campaign for smallholder farmers

GALVmed partner Hester Biosciences Limited has launched a campaign to sensitise farmers about animal health and management. The campaign is one of the initiatives to kick start a new programme which aims to provide over two million smallholder farmers with animal health products in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and in Nepal over a period of five years. The campaign, dubbed Pashu Chaupal (a Hindi word meaning meeting place in the village to discuss matters livestock) was launched in collaboration with India based media company Gaon Connection Private Limited (GCPL) targeting rural communities on varied subjects, including animal health and management.

During the campaign period, the Hester and Gaon Connection teams are conducting at least ten village meetings per month in different districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Experts from livestock and agriculture sectors join these events enthusiastically, to give a holistic solution to issues affecting smallholder livestock farmers as they usually do crop farming. To date twelve Pashu Chaupal events have been convened reaching over 1000 farmers in districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh (Azamgarh, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Kaushambi, Chandauli, Barabanki, Sitapur, Allahabad and Faizabad). During such meetings the experts highlight the importance of regular deworming and vaccinations of livestock and poultry against diseases such as PPR and Goat pox in goats, PPR in sheep and Newcastle disease in poultry along with good nutrition and management practices. Audio visual awareness tools such as short videos are used to aid in learning. Dedicated sessions on addressing questions from farmers are also held where experts give advice in a variety of subjects covering livestock and crop.

This campaign marks a first of such a mass awareness campaign for smallholder farmers by a private company in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. GALVmed is supporting Hester Biosciences Limited to develop a market to make available animal health products to smallholder livestock farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Nepal.

By Peetambar Kushwaha

New field study focuses on non-invasive chicken vaccines

A field study to explore the practical viability of non-invasive, simultaneous administration of commercial Fowl Pox and Newcastle Disease vaccines could potentially help to control both diseases for smallholder farmers. The study is currently being implemented in Hanang district in Tanzania, by GALVmed and its local partner Open University of Tanzania.

The objective of the study is to demonstrate that the concurrent administration of commercial Fowl Pox (FP) and Newcastle Disease (ND) vaccines when given by non-invasive routes is safe and elicits immunity, indicated by local (for FP) or serological (for ND) immune reactions, in rural, free-range scavenging, indigenous chicken in extensive smallholder settings.

The results obtained under field conditions will be compared with those obtained from a laboratory study that GALVmed was involved in, in 2017. The field work will evaluate if the benefits seen under laboratory conditions also accrue under field use conditions. If the field studies are successful, the aim is to make the technology available for commercial use in future.

Most resource poor people, living in marginalised hard to reach areas, possess village chickens. Chicken farming in these areas is characterised by low productivity coupled with high morbidity and mortalities. Preventable diseases such as Fowl Pox and Newcastle Disease are considered to be the primary disease constraints for smallholder poultry production, causing mortality, poor growth rate and drop in egg production.

In general, commercial Fowl Pox and Newcastle Disease vaccines are available in local markets. But a regulatory barrier exists with the administration of Fowl Pox vaccine in that, for most African countries, community animal health workers or paraprofessionals (the primary means by which smallholders access vaccines) are not permitted to administer the Fowl Pox vaccine is classed as an injectable that must be administered by a veterinarian or under the responsibility and direction of a veterinarian. The ND vaccine can however be administered by eye drop by trained paraprofessionals.

A practical solution to this problem could be for the paraprofessionals to apply the FP vaccine by feather-follicle route. This would permit the paraprofessional to legally administer the Fowl Pox vaccine in the course of their Newcastle vaccination activities. This is beneficial in terms of reducing costs and reducing the number of separate interventions.

The ongoing study is being conducted in 245 households located in seven villages.

By Kristin Stuke