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

Concluded GALVmed funded projects with Hester Biosciences in India show signs of sustainability

Some projects funded under the just concluded phase of Protecting Livestock II are already showing promising signs of sustainability. The projects that were implemented with Hester Biosciences in India were aimed at distributing a new thermo-tolerant Newcastle disease vaccine to smallholder farmers. The vaccine manufactured by Hester was being distributed in smaller 100 dose packs.

A key component of the Hester project was to develop a reliable supply chain of the poultry vaccines in rural and tribal areas of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

During implementation, various partnerships were made to spread awareness and reach the underserved smallholder farmers, especially tribal areas. Among such partnerships were with Birsa Yuva Seva Samiti (BYSS) in Jharkhand and Pathe Pathshala (PP) in Odisha. Although the project between GALVmed and Hester came to an end in June 2017, awareness and vaccination activities are still continuing and growing in project areas illustrating the potential for sustainable change in project area.

During the recent World Veterinary Day which was marked on April 28, 2018, Hester and BYSS convened an animal health awareness open day under the leadership of Dr Bablu Sundi where more than 200 smallholder livestock keepers participated. Dr Sundi, is a dedicated vet who founded BYSS to create animal husbandry awareness and provide extend animal health services in tribal areas of Chaibasa area with unique veterinary-mobile- ambulatory van. His efforts are captured in this story we did previously. BYSS is continuing to provide animal health services to smallholder farmers in Jharkhand.

Some of the guests who attended vaccine awareness creation activities during the 2018 Word Veterinary Day organised by BYSS in Jharkhand, India -Image by Rahul Srivastava/Hester

And in Odisha, Dr Balaram Sahu of Pathe Pathshala organised an awareness camp for tribal farmers in Munduli, Cuttack district, aslo on World Veterinary Day. More than 40 smallholder livestock farmers participated proactively.

Some of the participants at the World Veterinary Day event organised by Pathe Pathshala, Odisha, India- -Image by Rahul Srivastava/Hester

These awareness activities and other vaccination efforts are the result of the seed planted by the GALVmed-Hester partnership and are now continuing without further donor funding. The Hester project is an example of successful market development initiatives in South Asia. A new dedicated division ‘Veterinary Social Business’ has been established at Hester Biosciences Limited to spearhead a large scale project in some other Indian states and Nepal under the new GALVmed funding of Veterinary Innovations Transforming Animal health and Livelihoods (VITAL) that aims to provide smallholders with access to a suite of multiple veterinary products.

This post was written by Dr Rahul Srivastava who is the Assistant Vice President of Veterinary Social Business, Hester Biosciences Limited.

ECF stakeholders meet in Uganda to discuss report on field safety and efficacy study

GALVmed recently convened a meeting of key East Coast fever disease stakeholders in Uganda to discuss the final report of the ECF field safety and efficacy study. The meeting took place at the Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe Uganda on Friday 23rd February 2018. In attendance representing GALVmed were Dr Jeremy Salt, Chief Scientific Officer and Dr. Samuel Adediran, Senior Commercial Manager.

In his opening remarks Dr. Kenneth Mugabi, a senior veterinarian from the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries reiterated the importance of livestock in the Ugandan economy and the impact of livestock disease, especially East Coast fever on the livelihood of livestock keepers. He noted that the Infection and Treatment Method (ITM) has been recognised as one of the most effective control tools against ECF and thanked GALVmed for the financial support to improve ECF vaccination uptake in Uganda. In his presentation, Dr. Jeremy Salt traced the objectives of GALVmed to control neglected diseases including ECF, by working with global and regional partners in product development, manufacturing, marketing and policy. Dr Salt observed that, with funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK aid from the UK Government, GALVmed has supported product development and distribution of the ITM Muguga cocktail.

Dr. Josephine Nanyanzi, Principal Regulatory Officer at the Uganda National Drug Authority explained that following the submission of the registration dossiers and completion of the efficacy studies, the only step remaining for registration of the vaccine in Uganda was the inspection of the production facility in Lilongwe, Malawi. Based on the results of the study presented by Dr F. Musisi, the monitoring team concluded that the results demonstrated the efficacy and safety of the vaccine under field conditions and recommended that the product can be used widely in Uganda. Other participants including market distributors implored the NDA to register the vaccine and pave the way for more commercial use in Uganda.

-By Samuel Adediran

Establishing small chicken enterprises in Nepal through vaccination

In the small village of Madnapur in Surketh district, Nepal, lives Rampyari Thapa. She has been rearing backyard poultry for six years.  “Almost all my chickens would die, some would even suffer from paralysis,” she says recalling her struggles to keep her chickens alive. Her family owns only a small piece of land and so farming isn’t a viable livelihood option for them. However, things took a turn for the better when two years ago she met a Community Agriculture Veterinary Entrepreneur (CAVE), who informed her that poultry mortality could be avoided. The CAVE informed her that her birds were most likely dying due to Newcastle Disease or ‘Ranikhet’ disease as it is known locally, which was preventable through vaccination.

The CAVE introduced Rampyari to vaccination and highlighted to her the symptoms to look out for and other preventive measures. She was also taught how to vaccinate her birds against the disease. Today, Thapa has 18 healthy birds, each of which will fetch her NPR 1000 (US $ 10) in the market. She regularly vaccinates not just her own but her neighbours’ poultry as well and there have been no outbreaks of ND in her neighbourhood since. She has plans to grow her modest flock size to more than 300 chickens, an ambition that was unimaginable six years back.

Newcastle disease (ND) or Ranikhet is a major cause of high poultry mortality, the effects of which are felt most acutely by the backyard poultry (BYP) keepers in rural Nepal who are from disadvantaged communities. Although vaccines are available, these were used almost exclusively by commercial farmers as BYP farmers were unaware of both the disease and preventive measures. This, in addition to inadequate knowledge of good husbandry practices also meant that backyard poultry only remained a supplementary means of income.

The sector however, presents a great opportunity for income generation. According to a 2016 report by Heifer Project International Nepal, backyard poultry contributes significantly to Nepal’s poultry produce accounting for 16% of the total egg production and 13.5% of chicken meat production.

Recognising this, the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) in partnership with Heifer Project International Nepal initiated a project for sustained control of Newcastle Disease (ND) in Backyard Poultry through vaccination. Another objective was to increase income and nutrition of BYP farmers in the project area.

The two and a half year project which ran from September 2013 to March 2016, covered 50 village development committees in Banke, Bardiya and Surkhet districts. These districts used to experience regular bi-annual outbreaks of Newcastle Disease in April-May and August– September, killing up to 90 % of poultry.

The project was designed to mitigate problems of backyard poultry by creating awareness about improved BYP farming, and the benefits of regular deworming and ND vaccination using quality vaccines.

The farmers however, needed to be sensitised to voluntarily get their birds vaccinated, to pay for the services and to view such expenditures as an investment towards a profitable agri-business.

Activities facilitating behavioural change at the grassroots were thus a major focus area.  The project team created awareness on basic health care, vaccination, bio-security and backyard poultry management in project areas using tools such as street theatre, radio, posters, mobile vans with loud speakers, wall paintings and hoardings.

Meetings were also held with representatives of self-help groups, village animal health workers, community facilitators and other local stake holders to come up with an affordable fee for each dose of vaccine.

The project also leveraged on existing network of trained CAVEs who sold and administered these vaccines.  The CAVEs’ capacities were further bolstered by training them in BYP economics, health and husbandry and transporting vaccines safely using cool boxes.

Seven different ND vaccination and deworming campaigns were then conducted in project areas with help from local Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW), local partner NGOs and staff of the District Livestock Service Office (DLSO) of respective districts.

Dil Kumari Thapa, a backyard poultry farmer from Kunathari, Surkhet, was struggling to tackle ND outbreaks when she came across a street play teaching techniques to protect poultry from ND. She got in touch with the local Village Animal Health Worker (VAHW) and received training in vaccination and improved health & husbandry practices.

“Earlier I could only sell between eight to ten chickens annually as other birds would die. Things began improving when I built a new shed with materials available locally and began giving supplementary feeds along with regular deworming and vaccination,” Dil Kumari explains.

By the end of the project, the number of farmers vaccinating their chicken against ND had increased from 19.8 % to a whopping 73 % according to the project report.

These farmers have experienced increased egg production which has led to significant increase in flock size, with the average flock size per household increasing from 4 to 9. The project also reported an increase in annual income from poultry by an average of NPR 18303 or US $ 177 per household resulting from increased poultry and egg sales after intervention.

Recognising the benefits of vaccination, farmers are increasingly willing to pay for vaccines in subsequent campaigns.

The increased sales of vaccines has resulted into an increase in profits for stakeholders across the value chain – farmers, retailers, veterinary health workers and CAVEs. Annual expenditure on medicines and vaccines for instance went up by 38%, expenditure on vet fees increased by 173%, there has also been a 100% increase in poultry house maintenance expenditure and 39% increase in expenditure on poultry feed.

“I am able to earn much more from my poultry in a shorter period and my business requires less capital but has a good market.” concludes Dil Kumari, testifying that this has enabled her to save up and construct a water tank to irrigate her vegetable garden.

The cumulative impact on the mindset of the larger community is also noteworthy as neighboring villages and other organisations including government offices like district livestock service offices (DLSO) are beginning to replicate these interventions.

Agrovets help sustain Newcastle Disease vaccination value chain in Nepal

In one corner of Banke District in Nepal, Vishnu Rejme runs his agrovet stall. He is one of those community agroveterinary entrepreneurs – commonly known as agrovets – who are sustaining the system of poultry vaccination in remote parts of Nepal.

They form the vital ‘last mile’ connection to poultry farmers in the vaccine supply chain. Vishnu not only supplies and vaccinates chickens, but also helps to create awareness of the need for vaccination against the deadly Newcastle Disease.

The work being done by Vishnu and other agrovets was initiated by GALVmed and Heifer International.

Script by Prasenjit De and Shekhar Kanojia.
Videography by Tapas Ranjan Barik.
Camera attendant Mananjay Kumar.
Video editing by Rajesh Kumar.
Narrated by Gaurav Kapuria.
Directed by Shekhar Kanojia.