“I was born in a farming family in rural Jharkhand. I have seen how ND sweeps out bird populations in villages. I have witnessed and felt the pain of farmers when most of their birds die.”
These are the words of Dr. R.K. Tirkey, the Director General of the Department of Animal Husbandry in Jharkhand in India. He was speaking in Ranchi at the new ND control project launch by SUPPORT in partnership with GALVmed. The half day event on 13th February 2016 was well attended by government and non-government organisations working for Newcastle Disease (ND) control and backyard poultry promotion in the state.
GALVmed started working on ND control in backyard poultry in Jharkhand in 2014 with a local organisation, SUPPORT, which saw the project as a much needed intervention for rural farmers. It covered a smaller area compared to the newly launched project. This year, birds in vaccinated villages have not been swept out by ND. The number of poultry in every household has doubled and household consumption and sale has also gone up. This was reflected in the launch presentation using collected periodic data as well as testimonies from farmers present at the event. All participants including government officials were happy to learn of this outcome. Moreover, the project is aligned with Jharkhand’s Animal Husbandry department mission to increase the production of meat and eggs in the state.
How does the ND control project work?
The project trained a few young men and women in the area to carry out vaccinations in birds using an ND vaccine that is administered as a drop in the eye. SUPPORT project staff went to villages with a short documentary on ND prevention to show the benefits of vaccinating poultry and once there was a demand for the vaccine, local medicine shops were motivated to stock it.
Vaccinators buy vaccines from local medical stores and travel to villages to vaccinate. Vaccination is repeated once every quarter. Farmers pay for this vaccine and service and are happy with their increased number of birds. Vaccinators have a part-time job and local medical shops have added one more product to sell. It is a self-sustaining new service available to farmers in rural areas of Hazaribagh and Ramgarh district in Jharkhand.
Taking lessons from the ongoing project, SUPPORT decided to expand the project area and GALVmed is supporting them. This project, like all other GALVmed ND control projects, will also benefit from a well-established ND vaccine supply system being put in the state by an Indian vaccine manufacturing company, Hester Biosciences Ltd., which has recently expanded its vaccine supply system for the benefit of poor farmers in the state.
Will these projects help in pushing more backyard poultry into the local markets? Will the projects demand more ND vaccine and other medicines like dewormers. Will more young men and women find employment as vaccinators? Will farmers continue to adopt this new vaccine for their benefit? SUPPORT is very optimistic about all the above happening. In the meantime, we’ll be monitoring and evaluating the effects of this intervention over the next two years to see if this has happened in the project area as indicated by the first year’s report.