Tackling small livestock diseases

Almost every small-scale farming family in low- and middle-income countries owns small livestock – whether chickens, ducks, rabbits, sheep, goats or pigs. While small livestock provide nutrient-rich food, they are also considered a form of a savings account and often referred to as “ATMs” because they are a convenient source of cash.

Small livestock are also a pathway out of poverty and source of economic and gender empowerment for women and young people, especially in rural areas.

And yet for millions of small-scale producers, these very important assets are threatened by diseases. A chicken business can be decimated in a blink of an eye by Newcastle Disease (ND) which can kill up to 90% of the poultry. Similarly, Contagious Caprine pleuropneumonia (CCPP) is one of the most severe diseases of goats, and morbidity rate may reach 100% and the mortality rate can be as high as 80%. Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) can cause heavy losses, especially in naïve herds (up to 80%), and African Swine Fever, for which there is no vaccine, has a mortality rate which can be as high as 100%.

These are some of the small livestock diseases that GALVmed and partners are currently tackling. For some of these diseases, there already exist control tools such as a vaccine; for others, not yet. But even for those with vaccines, there are still challenges that impede their wide usage by small-scale producers. Together with our partners, we are continuously researching appropriate technologies to increase their uptake. For example, GALVmed has been working with partners to explore co-administration of the ND-Fowlpox vaccines through a non-invasive, needle free route, using feather follicles for the Fowlpox (FP) and the Newcastle disease vaccine via eye. This research has demonstrated to be safe and to elicit immunity in two field studies, one in Tanzania the other in Nepal. These findings are important to appropriately trained small-scale backyard poultry farmers as well as to paraprofessionals and community health workers helping to increase vaccine uptake and the control of both FP and ND in low- to middle-income countries.

GALVmed is also working with a commercial partner to develop a Small Ruminant Systemic Multivalent Vaccine addressing several major small ruminant diseases (CCPP, SGP, PPR), in a single combination vaccine. The multi-valent approach has the advantage to maximise disease coverage through distribution networks operating effective cold chains.

GALVmed has also previously worked with MCI Sante Animale in Morocco to develop a multivalent vaccine for Peste des petits ruminants (PPR)  and Sheep and Goat Pox (SGP) in sheep and goats. The two diseases affect many of the same animals in the same regions, and are not, in fact, easy to distinguish. Many farmers vaccinate against the more frequently occurring SGP, but not against the less common, but more deadly, PPR.

It is clear that multi-valent vaccines offer pragmatic and cost-effective disease control tools for the small-scale livestock keeper.

Alongside our partners, GALVmed will continue to explore various technologies to address diseases that threaten small livestock, to improve their health, increase their productivity and reduce their mortality, so that small-scale producers can benefit from their small livestock investments.

 This blog was written by Beatrice Ouma as part of the campaign “The advantage of small livestock”

Small livestock, big opportunities

Goats, sheep, pigs, chickens. These are some of the small livestock that are giving millions of people opportunities. Opportunities to build a house, buy clothes, secure their children’s education, or put food on the table. But the livestock are under threat from preventable diseases.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), smallholder farmers around the world produce about a third of the world’s food. With such an important role, it is essential that these farmers have access to affordable and high-quality veterinary products to keep their animals healthy and be able not only to address their basic needs, but also to help feed the world.

The value of small livestock, such as small ruminants or poultry, has been widely reported. Small stock provides small-scale producers with food, which contributes to nutrition security, creates employment opportunities, empowers women and young people (as they tend to care for and manage small animals), and overall bolsters households’ financials.

Binita is 18 years old and goat keeping is her family’s main support. “We do not have a farm, so goat keeping is our basic means of livelihood. All our household expenses are met with the money we earn from selling goats”.

At Malti’s house, she is responsible for the goats and sheep. Her husband is a casual labourer and the additional income gained from goat keeping helps them in “supporting their children’s education and other such expenses”.

Bitti, 21, takes care of the goats owned by the family. “The income is additional and helps us in taking care of additional expenses, such as the building of our house”, she claims.

Moses is a poultry business owner who was able to build a house for his family thanks to the benefits gained from his farm, which has grown from just a few chickens in 2013 to about 2,000. “My house is built with income from my chicken business. I am no longer renting. Even though I double a bit on crop farming, much of my income comes from my chicken business”, says Moses.

Read Moses’ full story here.

These are just a few of many stories by small-scale producers, who are experiencing the benefits of keeping small livestock.

At GALVmed, we understand the value of livestock, including small livestock. Through collaboration with different partners, we implement diverse programmes which ultimately aim at providing small-scale livestock producers with the medicines, tools as well as knowledge that they need to ensure their animals’ health and secure their livelihoods.

Some examples of these programmes are the Brucellosis vaccine prize, an initiative to develop a vaccine against Brucellosis in small ruminants, The GALVmed Hester South Asia Project, a programme supporting small-scale producers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Nepal by making available the most needed veterinary products for their livestock and poultry,  and PREVENT, a project to boost poultry production in Africa through hatchery vaccination.

At least 1.3 billion people rely on animal agriculture for their livelihood and food security. By taking care of livestock, together with our partners, we are directly protecting humans, the environment, ensuring food safety and security, and contributing to improving the lives of the people who like Binita, Malti, Bitti or Moses, depend on livestock for their livelihoods.

This blog was written by Patricia Valdeón Noya as part of the campaign ”The advantage of small livestock”

Using a Randomised Control Trial to study the impact of Newcastle Disease vaccine on poultry farmer welfare and livelihoods

In 2020, Oxford Policy Management (OPM) was contracted by GALVmed to implement an intervention and conduct an associated impact study on the adoption of a Newcastle Disease Vaccine (NDV) by small-scale poultry farmers in rural Tanzania in the districts of Chemba and Mbozi. The objective of the study is to quantify the causal effects that the delivery of NDV has on the “production, productivity, and livelihoods of small-scale producers (SSPs)”. The study involves two main activities:

  1. The design and implementation of an NDV intervention in selected SSP farming areas of Tanzania.
  2. The design and implementation of an experimental study to quantify the causal effects of the NDV intervention.

The impact study was designed as a randomised controlled trial (RCT) where the study sample was randomly split into one treatment group and one control group. The treatment group was offered and will continue to be offered the NDV intervention package. This group will be compared with a control group, who did not and will not receive the intervention package during the study. The control group will receive one round of the intervention after the study’s endline survey.

A baseline study was conducted between September and November 2021 and the endline survey is scheduled for September to November 2023. Further details on the RCT and its findings will be made available upon publication of the results.

Blog written by Lamyaa Al-Riyami

Learning lessons at GALVmed

The collection and analysis of data allow organisations to develop and implement impactful and evidence-based strategies. GALVmed’s Commercial Development and Impact Function is committed to a developmental approach to monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL), which means that we use rapid learning to improve a project programme or affirm the need for a change of course.

To be truly developmental, this learning needs to feed back in a systematic way into our organisation. How do we do that? We use a framework for lessons learning to ensure that the lessons are integrated back into GALVmed. The Collaboration, Learning and Adapting (CLA) framework, developed and used by USAID, is a useful approach that we have adapted to frame our learning process. USAID defines CLA as “a set of processes and activities that help ensure programming is coordinated, grounded in evidence, and adjusted as necessary to remain effective throughout implementation” (ADS 201, 2016).

CLA is based in the understanding that development projects operate in complex systems, which shift over time. In this changing landscape, the objectives that we set out at the beginning of a project or programme can be affected over a three or five year period of performance. Responding in an adaptive manner ensures that we keep moving towards having a positive impact. The adaptive decisions we make must be based in evidence, which is why we are integrating processes for CLA into the beginning of our projects or programmes and adjusting these throughout the project or programme life cycle. Essentially, this is an approach to learning that fits in perfectly with our developmental approach.

There are three main steps in our learning process:

  1. The first step is to accurately define and diagnose the problem (or best practice). Some problems are logistical or operational and have easy fixes. But these, while important, do not usually make or break a project. Others are deeper and more complex and require a lot more thought and reflection to unpack them and to understand how to respond to them. Sometimes there are multiple causes to a problem, with some of them being root causes.
  2. The second step is to categorise the problem (or best practice). The use of categories ensures key information is not missed and helps to focus our thinking on lessons. To ensure consistency across projects, there are standard categories for each project and additional categories specific to a project can be added as needed.
  3. The third step is to define a road map for the way forward. This involves defining what action needs to take place, and how to know when that action has succeeded. At the end of a lessons learning exercise, there should be a road map that takes us from a lesson to action and adaptation.

Throughout this process, active collaboration is key to ensuring that we view our lessons from multiple perspectives and that our stakeholders have a voice.

This blog was written by Katharine Tjasink

Improved healthcare increases milk yields for small-scale dairy producers

Small-scale dairy production in developing countries is subject to many risks from diseases. In India, GALVmed is working with Hester Biosciences to improve the knowledge of small-scale dairy producers in disease prevention, management and control.

More information about this project: http://ow.ly/1oub50JgiC6

How one man’s dream is supporting generations

When we meet Moses Kuppa in the outskirts of Iringa town in the southern highlands of Tanzania, his chicken farm is a hive of activities. Two farm hands are busy cleaning the various poultry houses and feeding the more than two thousand chickens. Occasionally, traders arrive at his gate on motorbikes looking to purchase chickens from the farm. At 36-year-old, Moses has accomplished what many small-scale livestock producers aim to achieve, generating a steady income from their produce. But for the father of one, the journey has not been easy. Sheer hard work, passion and knowledge of his trade has contributed to his success as an entrepreneur.

Moses attending to his chicks

Moses started his chicken business back in 2013 with only a few chicks. As with any young business, there were challenges along the way, including having to deal with various poultry diseases that threatened to wipe his entire flock and cut his dreams short. But with time, he gained the knowledge and experiences needed to run a successful poultry farm. Key among the game-changers for his business is hatchery vaccinations. Moses buys his day-old chicks from Silverlands Tanzania, a hatchery that produces high quality poultry feed and day-old chicks which are then sold to smaller businesses and other farmers across the East Africa region. All day-old chicks from Silverland are fully vaccinated from various poultry diseases which gives the farmers peace of mind.

In addition, Silverlands also runs a poultry training college, and it is through these trainings that Moses learned how to properly run his business and deal with challenges such as biosecurity, which is the weakest link for many small-scale poultry farmers.

“We follow all the right processes of production that we have been taught, from feeding, vaccinations and even avoiding mixing the different ages of chickens so that there is no cross-termination.” He says.

Moses then sells his chick from seven weeks old up to nine weeks old to other smaller-scale producers and businesses around. He is what is called a mother-unit, meaning other farmers buy chicks from him to rear and sell to supermarkets, restaurants and even to neighbours for home consumption and social gatherings. By selling his chicks at such a young age, Moses saves on the cost of rearing the chicks to fully grown ages. “Other farmers sell at three months at the same price that I do but having spent a lot extra on the cost of feeds, heating and other essentials,” says Moses.

Moses talks to a trader who has come to purchase chicks from his farm

What Moses has been able to accomplish with his profits is clearly visible. He has built a big family house and at the back, he has constructed modern chicken houses that can house over 2,000 chicks, separated by ages. He also built extra rooms for his relatives who depend on him and help him on the farm.

“My house is built with income from my chicken business. I am no longer renting. Even though I double a bit on crop farming, much of my income comes from my chicken business. I also stay with my brother’s child and other family members who look up to me as their provider.” Says Moses.

Moses has built a modern family house with income from poultry business

A bigger business

But for Moses, this is just the beginning.

“I have big dreams for this business. I want to own a big enterprise and to start exporting chicks regionally. This is my long-term goal.”

In April 2021 GALVmed and animal health company Ceva Santé Animale launched PREVENT (PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow), an initiative that will work with medium-size hatcheries in target countries to annually distribute more than 50 million vaccinated day-old-chicks to farmers such as Moses.

These chicks will be effectively protected against the major infectious poultry diseases thereby improving overall flock health and boosting small-scale producers’ financial prospects.

 Written by Beatrice Ouma, GALVmed Senior Communications Manager

Case study: Strengthening farmers’ access to livestock inputs in Ghana

It is estimated that livestock disease in Africa costs more than nine billion dollars per annum (Grace et al 2015), not including productivity losses or its impact on human health. Small-scale livestock producers lose an estimated 25% of their livestock every year to diseases.

In rural areas of Ghana, the majority of small-scale livestock producers rely on small agrovet shops for products like feed, vaccines and medicines. However, supply is not always guaranteed as agrovet shops routinely run out of stock, as they have to travel to big cities like Accra or Kumasi to source products. This leaves farmers at risk of losing their livestock.

Agrovets are key in the agricultural value chain as they also provide ‘extension services’, where veterinary professionals visit farmers to treat their animals.

The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) partnered with last mile veterinary distribution company Cowtribe Technology Ltd to create a new company called TribeCo to help agrovets keep their shops well-stocked. GALVmed is providing funding for the project, and manages the project to ensure its objectives are realised.

TribeCo sources vaccines, medicines and feed from local and international manufacturers and distributes them to a network of rural agrovets to ensure a steady supply. This is done with guidance and supervision by local veterinary officials.  Tribecovet has already signed up a number of agrovets across Ghana who are now better equipped to access products.

“Buying the products from the south [of Ghana] which was difficult for us [until] we met TribeCo. They are now doing free delivery for us. Anytime we want them they are available for us”. 

Mahamudu – Veterinary medicines dealer

TribeCo uses an app called Zhulia to simplify the supply chain and help agrovets to efficiently manage their retail services. Agrovet dealers can access products from multiple suppliers and monitor their stocks to avoid running out of products. TribeCo then delivers the product to shops.

“At first we used to get our supplies every month. But with the coming of TribeCo, when you just use the Zhulia app, when you do it in the morning by evening time your goods will arrive. I think that has helped us so much and because they bring the goods free of charge… That has helped the lives of so many farmers, both livestock and then poultry.” 

Margaret – Veterinary medicines dealer

By providing uninterrupted access to livestock health products, GALVmed expects to see a significant increase in small-scale livestock producers’ productivity by avoiding economic losses caused by infectious diseases, improved livelihoods, and availability of affordable animal protein. GALVmed will monitor the impact of the project through surveys and collection of sales data.

“With the coming of TribeCo in my life it has improved a lot the lives of farmers, because there’s decrease in disease outbreaks. This has generated into increase in productivity. It has brought money into the pocket of farmers.” 

Margaret – Veterinary medicines dealer

News by Action for Animal Health. Click here to see more case studies.

Hatchery vaccination to boost opportunities for poultry producers in Africa

Poultry is an important protein source and an asset for small-scale producers in Africa. However, losses due to preventable diseases continue to significantly impact farmers’ livelihoods and financial stability. Low poultry vaccination combined with inadequate information about circulating diseases and how to treat them form a constant barrier to production by small-scale producers (SSPs).

In April 2021 GALVmed and Ceva launched PREVENT, an initiative designed to establish an innovative and pragmatic veterinary health platform in Sub-Saharan Africa through hatchery vaccination. PREVENT will work with medium-size hatcheries in target countries to annually distribute more than 50 million vaccinated-old-chicks to SSPs. These chicks will be effectively protected against the major infectious poultry diseases thereby improving overall flock health and boosting SSPs’ financial prospects.

Apart from vaccination, there are other key elements in preventing and dealing with animal diseases, such as awareness, knowledge, adequate treatment, etc. In this understanding, the project will train and collaborate with a team of field technicians to assist and provide husbandry advice to poultry SSPs leading to best flock management practices.

PREVENT is an initiative not only focused on the clear benefits of poultry vaccination, but also set to be gender transformative. Intensification in poultry farming typically leads to erosion of the participation of women in management activities. This project will make deliberate efforts to minimise this trend in partner poultry SSPs households.

Lastly, there is a need of building knowledge on diseases that affect small-scale poultry production in scoped countries. To meet this need, an elaborate epidemiological study will be undertaken where samples will be collected at SSPs’ level for further analysis. We believe that this knowledge will not only be valuable for the project but also inform future interventions.

In a nutshell, by implementing vaccination at the level of the hatcheries, we will see an impact all the way across the value chain that will ultimately improve the sustainability of poultry production system across the target Africa countries (Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Mozambique). Healthy poultry equals more opportunities to small-scale producers, who will minimise their losses and develop their business to get a more financially secure future.

The PREVENT project was officially launched on April 7, 2021. PREVENT (PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow) is a 4-year initiative in partnership with the animal health company CEVA.

Press release

Written by Patricia Valdeón Noya

All female poultry vaccinators in Ethiopia

An all-female vaccinator group is tackling a deadly poultry disease in Ethiopia.

The Newcastle Disease vaccine project in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia started in January 2017. Its objective was to introduce and implement a Newcastle Disease vaccination and general poultry health and management programme.

In 30 districts in Tigray through female village vaccinators, with the goal to reach 150,000 households, the project aims to empower women whose minimum education qualification is Grade 10 who are categorised as landless women.

(Video by Pius Sawa, WRENmedia consultant, for GALVmed.)

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.)