Newcastle Disease vaccine: Creating sustainability through commercial delivery systems

Making livestock vaccines and medicines easily accessible to smallholder farmers is a vital component of the value chain. If the vaccines are beyond reach, the farmers will not benefit and their livestock will suffer.  In Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, India, local retail shops provide the much needed solution to a glaring gap by stocking and making readily available, essential livestock vaccines and medicines such as the Newcastle Disease (ND) vaccine. Often, they are regular medicine shop owners, who are now finding that stocking vaccines such as the ND vaccine profitable. Furthermore, these retail shops have the required equipment and knowledge such as cold chain storage management to ensure that the quality of the vaccines are not compromised.

Access to the vaccine and the build-up of new and more efficient commercial supply chains have been facilitated by the Bhodal Milk Producers Cooperative Society (BMPCS), a local NGO in partnership with the non-profit Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed). In the initial days of the project, there were no retailers below the district level who kept and sold the ND vaccine. As a solution BMPCS tried to work with a few vaccinators who could reach the remotest parts of the district.

Sanatan Soren, 32, a vaccinator from Khanda Hari Village, Block Ras Gobindpur comes from a family of farmers. In 2011, BMPCS gave Sanatan and four other vaccinators from the nearby villages a small refrigerator to store vaccines.

This setup or “Vaccination Centre” was one of eight centres that were established in order to streamline the distribution of vaccines in the region. Each vaccination centre would cater for between four and six vaccinators, who would collectively pay Indian rupees 300 (US $ 4.64) to offset the electricity bill (cost) for the refrigerator. However this approach had some drawbacks.

First came the problem of irregular power supply. In the forested parts of Odisha, the period from December to February is locally known as ‘Elephant season’. During this period the government cuts off day-time electricity power supply in entire areas to prevent elephants being electrocuted. This meant that many of the vaccines would be rendered non-potent and cannot be administered. What’s worse is that the Elephant season coincides with outbreaks of Newcastle Disease.

Another obstacle that the vaccination centres encountered was to do with licensing. The distribution of vaccines requires a license from relevant authorities. Most of the vaccination centres did not have formal licenses to operate rendering them technically illegal. This hampered any promotion of the operation and consequently the expansion of the project as most vaccinators would not know of the existence of the centres. Also the entire income was dependent on the sale of a single vaccine and de-wormer unlike the medicine shops where a range of products are sold and small profits from the sale of each product are used to meet the operational costs.

In 2012, BMPCS started to partner with local chemists to stock the ND vaccine. The chemists sold the vaccines at affordable prices to farmers and the results were incredible.

Trilochan Dhal, 48, runs the Jai Guru Dev Medical Store in Kosta, Suryapada a few kilometers away from the district headquarters of Baripada. He has been selling the vaccine for a few years now. He buys each vial at Indian Rupees 18 (US $ 0.03) and sells them at Indian Rupees 22 (US $ 0.35). He sells about 500 vials a month, earning a net profit of about Indian Rupees 2,000 (US $32). It’s a modest amount but it contributes to offsetting some of his monthly expenditure.

Initially Trilochan served only a few vaccinators but as word spread, his customers increased in number. Today he caters for some 40-50 vaccinators from the neighbouring villages and occasionally a few farmers. “I see the demand increasing further in the times to come,” he beams when asked about the prospects.

Piyush Mishra, the Program Manager for BMPCS states “The regular awareness programmes helped in growing the demand while lower cost of the vaccine and easy availability further boosted sales”.

This approach has yielded positive results. In Mayurbhanj, the number of retailers of the ND vaccine has gone up from six in 2012 to 27 in 2017. The total doses of vaccine sold has also gone up from about 50,000 in the same period to between 250,000 and 300,000 currently.

Building sustainable vaccine retail chains has been a vital part of providing farmers with much needed services. The market continues to grow as retail shops earn profits from the sales.  Many of the retailers also double as vaccinators. This points to a healthy demand for the ND vaccine and a sustainable marketplace.

(Written by Deepak Bhadana with edit inputs from Prasenjit De. Photos by Alternatives.)

For women in rural Uganda Newcastle Disease vaccine is more than just protecting chickens

In the rural villages of central Uganda’s Mukono and Mityana districts and eastern Uganda’s Iganga district, thanks to the introduction of the Newcastle Disease vaccine (I-2 ND) which protects poultry against this deadly disease, women have been taking on more roles in their households and communities. Through the income they get from selling their chickens at market, small, informal women-led business enterprises are popping up around the region.

By selling their increased flocks of chicken at local village markets or to buyers who come for them at their homes, they have created a surplus in their income, which provides the business capital to start small informal businesses. These businesses are helping women diversify their livelihoods, contributing to their households’ income in times of distress.

Among these women, there are several who are excelling in poultry husbandry and their healthy, growing flocks are admired in their communities. Since 2014 when the I-2 ND vaccine was introduced in Uganda, they have been keenly vaccinating their chickens; and their flocks have flourished and multiplied in numbers. As a result, they are being sought by other groups of women in their villages, to train them on proper chicken rearing and vaccinate for them.

When Janet Mailuba from Buwolomena Village in Nabaale Sub County of Central Uganda began vaccinating her five chickens against Newcastle disease in 2013, her only aim was their survival.  This 41-year-old mother of ten never imagined standing confidently in front of small groups of women in her village to train them on basic chicken rearing techniques and explain the importance of vaccination.

By following the recommended ND vaccination cycle, every three months, and adopting improved chicken rearing, Mailuba now has 30 chickens and two goats and she is one of Brentec Vaccines Limited’s model farmers in her village.  During the holidays she sells off mature chickens when the demand and prices are high and earns up to UGX 25,000 (US $6.97) per chicken.

Brentec, through a partnership with the non-profit organisation Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), manufactures and distributes the I-2 ND vaccine locally known as Kukustar, to poultry farmers like Mailuba in rural Ugandan villages.  Through GALVmed’s partnership over 25 million I-2 ND vaccine doses have been delivered to poultry farmers.

According to Dr Mamta Dhawan, GALVmed’s gender focal point, it’s important that poultry vaccinations are inclusive of male and female poultry keepers. “When we talk of farmers, the general mindset is that they are men, but women are also farmers and shouldn’t be left out,” said Dr Dhawan. The goal of GALVmed’s gender policy is to ensure that GALVmed-supported projects take into account gender perspectives to maximise impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in developing countries.

With the vaccine protecting her chickens against the disease, Mailuba has a new source of income. Every time she sells one chicken, she earns between UGX 20,000 and UGX 25,000 (US $5.57-6.96). From the income, Mailuba is sharing the household expense burdens with her brick-layer husband by buying soap, food, medicine, uniforms and books for their children.

“My husband now respects me and we live in harmony,” says Mailuba. She has also partnered with four women to form a welfare group for diversifying their livelihoods means, and every week they each save UGX 6,000 (US $1.67) in the group’s kitty. The group has also obtained goats after bartering some of their chicken at the local market  each goat is bartered for seven mature chickens.

Mailuba now has two goats and is planning to buy a Friesian cow, so that she can improve her household nutrition and income through milk consumption and sales respectively. As a result of her being a Brentec model poultry farmer, three women groups in her village have been inviting Mailuba to train them on chicken rearing and vaccination.

Susan Nandiyi from Nambale Village in Iganga district is also a model poultry farmer whose increased income from poultry has provided the opportunity for her take up more household responsibilities. The mother of ten in her late thirties has 30 chickens, but before she began vaccinating two years ago, she had at most five birds at a time. Almost all of Nandiyi’s chickens would succumb to Newcastle Disease and the burden of providing to her family was left to her husband. Today, through improved income from selling chickens, she pays for school fees for their children and buys medicine and food for the family when her husband is unable to or when their crops fail.

“When I see a need in the household I sell one chicken to buy what’s required,” said Nandiyi. Her contribution has added to the wellbeing of the family. She is also happy she can regularly slaughter a chicken for her family at least once a month, without costing her much.  This gives her family much needed protein. Like Mailuba, she plans to buy a cow and goats with her savings from selling the chickens.

Nandiyi also encourages women in her village to vaccinate their chickens, having witnessed the benefits first hand.  She and other women in her village have also secured consistent chicken buyers so they don’t struggle to market them.

For 36-year-old Harriet Mutesi also from Nambale, the income she gets selling chickens now ensures that her husband includes her in household decision making. “It makes me proud to sit down with him and plan,” said Mutesi. The mother of five buys pens and uniforms for her children and her husband buys books and pays school fees. “I used to feel bad when I couldn’t contribute anything to my children’s education, but now I’m happy,” said Mutesi. Between her and her husband they also decide every school term whose turn it is to pay the fees.

Having been a tailor all her life, 71-year-old Magdalene Muyango from Ngulolo village in Mityana district, decided to rear chickens two years ago to supplement her income. The mother of eight almost quit when she once lost 15 out of her 25 birds in a single week. Through a radio advertisement she learned of the Kukustar vaccine and had her chickens vaccinated first a year agoand every three months since then, by local para-veterinary professionals.

Since vaccinating, Muyango has not lost any chicken to Newcastle disease; currently she has 20 growing chickens. These provide her with eggs for home consumption and selling. The secondary income she gets from the chickens she saves in a local saving group called Mayirye Development Group. The 40 member welfare group consists of both men and women.

“Every week I save UGX 5,000 (US $1.39) and the chickens have really helped me to be getting that money,” said Muyango. The extra income she gets from the chickens has also helped relieve her husband from the burden of providing basic household needs.  “I’m happy to see him rested,” said Muyango.

During the implementation of projects, GALVmed ensures its community engagement activities are structured so as to be convenient for women attending according to Dr Dhawan. That means meetings are not scheduled during lunch time or late in the evening when women are busy attending to their households.

Gender discrimination has been found to be a cause of poverty and interventions aimed at poverty reduction need to be gender sensitive, according to GALVmed’s Gender Policy.

(Words and photos by James Karuga.)

Poultry vaccination pays off for Indian farmers as demand increases

Access to a vaccine for Newcastle Disease (ND) has transformed the lives of communities in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha state.

Local inhabitants, who have traditionally bred poultry, would often experience the death of their flock during an outbreak of ND. The deadly disease has been known to kill entire flocks when an outbreak occurs.

A vaccine against ND was introduced in this district with the help of the Bhodal Milk Producers Cooperative Society (BMPCS), an Odisha based NGO, which in turn was supported by the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed). The vaccine has played a key role in saving the birds and has contributed to increased income and intake of protein in families.

Forty-six-year-old Jitray Marandi from Pandupal village is a farmer. He also rears livestock and gathers Mahua flowers, which are not only a food item for the locals but are also used for brewing country spirit, locally called Mahuli.  He first heard of the vaccine about two years ago from Govardhan Naik, the local vaccinator and rural health worker. Having witnessed the death of his chickens year after year, he was keen to try anything that would stop the outbreaks.

Marandi’s decision to try the new vaccine paid off.  His chickens went almost unscathed after administering the vaccine. Over the past year his flock has grown to an impressive 100 chickens. Out of the 100, his family consumed thirty, while another thirty have been sold off providing much needed income. “I will use forty birds for breeding over the next year,” he said.

Poultry are very important to these communities who have reared them for generations, and are still rearing them. Not only are they a regular fixture in their diet, but they are also a means of income. Moreover, the chickens are also used as offerings in important religious rituals. It is not uncommon to see visitors bringing their own chickens and presenting them to the hosts as gifts.

“My family has traditionally kept poultry, but they were always very few. The Ranikhet disease [local name for ND] wouldn’t allow the flock to grow,” says 60-year-old farmer, Gopal Hembram.

Before the arrival of the vaccine for ND, they had no idea that their poultry could be protected medically.

“We only got to know of this from Govardhan and the awareness videos we were shown,” Mr Hembram said.

Since the introduction of the vaccine two years ago there has been no major outbreak. The flock size has increased from between a paltry two to six to 60.

Adoption of the vaccine has also been very good, as the selling price of a single chicken is enough to cover the cost of vaccinating the entire flock. The money is used to meet various family needs including funding the education of their children and buying crucial agricultural inputs for their fields.

The farmers get their chickens vaccinated four times a year, paying  eight Indian Rupees (or less than 13 US cents) per bird annually. The chickens are also primed for vaccination by deworming for which they pay another eight Indian Rupees annually. Once a chicken is grown, it can be sold for a maximum of 600 Indian Rupees (US $ 9). This is a significant economic investment for the farmers.

Speaking in the local Santhal dialect, Gopal’s wife Chhita (50) observes: “If you take care of your poultry, give them proper food and management, the chickens will take care of you.” She also advises others to vaccinate their birds.

When the project was launched, BMPCS facilitated a discussion among stakeholders and helped them to take a bold decision to charge the farmers a basic fee, instead of handing out the vaccines for free. Initially the sales from the retail shops were low, but later the sales grew considerably. The decision has yielded good results as the farmers soon understood the benefits of vaccination.

The farmers are keen to continue with vaccination even if the current project ends. This essentially points to the development of a sustainable market for ND vaccine in the district.

This has also motivated several young people like Sukanti (17) to aspire to be vaccinators. “I have just finished school. I think I can be a good vaccinator and earn well,” she says. She is from a farming family with backyard poultry and hence has understood the importance of ND vaccination.

Piyush Mishra, Programme Manager, BMPCS, notes: “If Sukanti and a few more girls take up vaccination, they can serve neighbouring villages and teach the villagers techniques for housing and feeding poultry as well.”

Improved income and nutrition of backyard poultry farmers have helped a large number of the population in an otherwise stressed farming situation. The region, like most other regions in India, has seen successive seasons of drought. Vaccinations against ND has boosted their poultry rearing and the vaccine now has a sustained demand in the local market place.

By Deepak Bhadana and edited by Prasenjit De of Alternatives on behalf of GALVmed.

Newcastle Disease vaccination in India creates new job opportunities as well as saving poultry

Newcastle Disease (ND) vaccinators in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha state in India can today look towards bright prospects. The demand for their services has not only spawned new employment opportunities within their locales, but has also helped farmers protect their poultry flocks which would routinely be ravaged by Newcastle Disease outbreaks. In addition, the chance to become a poultry vaccinator and the income that comes along with it has empowered rural women, who can now use their hard earned money to invest in a better future for their families. Access to ND vaccination training in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha has been facilitated by the Bhodal Milk Producers Co-operative Society (BMPCS), a local NGO, and Heifer International in partnership with non-profit Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed).

Thirty-seven-year-old, Govardhan Naik from Suryapada always wanted to set up his own business. A university graduate, he first heard of an opportunity to be an ND vaccinator through a friend. After a four day training course that covered vaccination and first aid, he ventured into the field as a trained vaccinator. This was about four years ago.

Govardhan gets his supplies of the ND vaccine from a market at a nearby town, Kosta. He has also procured a refrigerator to store the vaccines and a motorcycle to help him reach the farmers. He serves around 400 households vaccinating close to 5,000 chickens every month. Providing additional services such as deworming and first aid, Govardhan brings home a net income averaging INR 8,000 (US $ 122) monthly, which has positively contributed to the economic well-being of his family.

His work as a vaccinator has brought him recognition from the locals and several of his friends have now shown an interest in the occupation, with one of them now an active vaccinator. “I will continue as a vaccinator even after this current project ends,” he says, referring to the ongoing GALVmed sponsored initiative, much to the relief of numerous households who are grateful for his services and want him to continue.

The effects of the poultry vaccinators’ work on the local economy are visible. When Govardhan first began vaccinating, an average village consisting of about 20 households would have a maximum of 70-80 chickens. After the first year of vaccination, the number skyrocketed to over 1,000. Farmers’ earnings from poultry rearing increased.

“If you work as a vaccinator, you can have an independent enterprise,” he adds.

A vial of the ND vaccine costs between INR 75 (US $1.16) and INR 100 (US $1.55). One vial can vaccinate up to 100 chickens. A vaccinator can charge INR 2 (US $ 0.03) per vaccination. There is also additional income derived from services such as deworming and first aid. For example, Govardhan earns another INR 3,000 or (US $46) from these additional services.

The involvement of women as vaccinators has also contributed to their economic empowerment and participation in decision making within the family unit and their communities. Mamata Mandal, 42, from Tikayatpur village in Ras Gobindpur block, is one such vaccinator. Mamata first got to know about vaccination from Anup Behra, the team leader of Unnayana, a local NGO. Coming from a family that has traditionally reared poultry and having witnessed high mortality of the birds, she readily took up the occupation.

Mamata procures her supplies from a small shop, about 7 km away from her village. Carrying a cool box to store the vaccines, she serves around 250 households in a 3km radius and vaccinates around 5,000 birds. Her services get her an income of INR 3,000 (US $ 46) every month. “With this income I can school my children and buy agricultural inputs for the farm,” she says.

BMPCS started the programme with just 7,500 families in 2011. By December 2016, the NGO had already reached more than 175,000 households. Today BMPCS supports more than 320 vaccinators in the project area.

Heifer International’s project was launched in September 2015. By May 2017, they had served as many as 62,316 households. Today, Heifer International supports more than 218 active vaccinators in the field.

Newcastle disease vaccination has helped turn around the lives of many individuals in Mayurbhanj. The vaccinators stand at the frontlines in the fight against the deadly poultry disease and their services are benefitting many smallholder farmers. And with a stable demand for their services, the vaccinators can hope for a better future.

Written by: Deepak Bhadana and edited by Prasenjit De of Alternatives for GALVmed