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

Challenging gender norms in poultry management

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Necessity is what drove Rahma Joseph to start a chicken business. The mother of four from Iringa in Tanzania, was faced with challenges on how to provide for her family and saw an opportunity in poultry business.

“We started with fourteen chickens that were given to us as a group by Care International. We took turns to take care of the chickens and with time, the flock grew to 100,” says Rahma

After a while, some of the group members dropped out of the programme due to various reasons, but Rahma and the few who were left divided the flock that was left and each went their separate ways to take care of their chickens.  She has since grown her flock to around 200 chickens. She makes decisions around their health e.g., vaccinations and also when to sell them.

It is documented that livestock, and especially small stock is an important entry point for promoting women empowerment in rural areas to enable them to break out of the cycle of poverty. Poultry represents an accessible, and low-investment livestock that may help to secure high-quality food and income, especially for rural women-headed households.  It is therefore not uncommon that the first livestock investment that women like Rahma would go for is poultry.

However, it is also documented that as poultry production intensifies in the small-scale segments, and income increases, the level of women’s involvement in poultry management and decision-making declines. The woman’s role is relegated to labour related activities instead. And yet study after study shows that when women have cash, they will spend it on things that improve the quality of life for their family. That means more money for buying food to improve nutrition, schooling for children, visiting a doctor, or even building a toilet. Empowering women to become active decision makers along the value chain is an integral part of getting them out of cyclical poverty.

Nearby in Chanya village, thirty-six-year-old Helena Kindole proudly shows off her new chicken house. She built the house through profits earned from her small poultry business. She is what is known as a mother-unit, meaning she buys day-old chicks from the hatchery and sells them off at a young age, from six months old to other farmers. She has been able to grow her business and can make decisions such as using the profits to build the chicken house.

Women in rural areas are beginning to think more boldly about opportunities available to them, that can improve their livelihoods, status and influence in their homes, communities, and economies. And poultry production is one such avenue.

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 small-scale poultry producers. PREVENT seeks to be gender intentional,  primarily through Field Technician intervention. PREVENT plans to diminish and reverse the decline of women’s involvement in poultry management activities.

For women like Rahma and Helena, this will be an opportunity to expand their businesses and continue having even greater ability to make decisions on their businesses.

“I would like to build a larger poultry house in order to increase my poultry production and sell more poultry and increase my profit.” concludes Helena.

 Written by Beatrice Ouma, GALVmed Senior Communications Manager

Translational Research for Transformational Change: One on One with GALVmed’s New R&D Executive Director

Beginning of October 2021, GALVmed appointed Dr Johnson Ouma as its new Executive Director in charge of Research & Development. Johnson is a seasoned researcher and has provided leadership in establishing and managing strategic product and technology development partnerships which have led to the development of breakthrough products for animal health.

Johnson will play a leading role in shaping and delivering GALVmed’s Research & Development strategy centred on sustainable technologies addressing animal health challenges facing small-scale livestock producers. We sat down with him to know more about his life, career, motivations and his plans for his new role.  

How would you describe yourself?

I am a passionate people person. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and I love meeting and getting to know new people and finding common ground with them. I like it when people feel comfortable around me. These traits have served me well at the workplace and contributed to my success as a leader.

What are you most excited about in your new role?

I am thrilled to know that this role offers a unique platform through which, together with my R&D team, and working in collaboration with other departments within GALVmed as well as with GALVmed’s esteemed partners, we would be able to develop and roll out products and solutions that would significantly contribute to the improvement of livelihoods of hundreds of millions of smallholder livestock producers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

What experience would you say prepared you for this role?

Over the last 10 years, I have served as the Director of Africa Technical Research Centre (ATRC), a multicultural R&D Centre, where I established and managed product development partnerships and built and inspired a strong R&D team, leading to the successful development and commercialization of a portfolio of products for agriculture (livestock and crop protection) and public health.  Before joining ATRC, I worked as a senior scientist with the then Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (KETRI) and Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI, predecessor to the current Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization – KALRO) for nearly 17 years. At KARI, I was a senior member of KARI’s Animal Health research programme. I coordinated KARI’s Epidemiology and Disease Control sub-programme and served as Deputy Director of KARI’s Trypanosomiasis Research Centre.  I am therefore excited to have accepted this role and look forward to leveraging my over 25 years’ experience, skills, knowledge and networks in R&D and R&D leadership to contribute towards the achievement of GALVmed’s strategic goals.

What is your vision for GALVmed’s R&D work?

I envision a vibrant R&D department with a highly inspired team working with our partners to develop and roll out safe (to humans, livestock and the environment), efficacious, easy to use and affordable livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics that are pro-poor. I am privileged to be joining GALVmed at a time when the organisation is just beginning to execute its 2030 strategy implementation plan. The R&D department will contribute to achieving GALVmed’s strategic objectives by delivering on four strategic themes: 1) end-to-end product development, 2) use of current antigens with new technologies, 3) industry support for localized animal health product development technology platforms in LMICs and, 4) establishment and support of specialized manufacturing capabilities. Collectively, these four themes will provide a systematic and comprehensive framework for impactful interventions across the animal health product development chain. Effective product development partnerships have been a key contributor to GALVmed’s success.  Thus, in all our efforts, we will continue to work closely with GALVmed’s traditional partners in research, academia, and the animal health industry.  Where and when necessary, we will seek and establish new product development partnerships.

What are your aspirations for GALVmed’s mandate?

I very much identify with GALVmed’s vision, mission and core values. I am passionate about the use of translational research to develop products that would bring about transformational change in the lives of smallholder livestock producers. It is unacceptable that in this era and age of cutting-edge scientific and technological advancements, smallholder livestock producers should continue to lose their livelihood due to livestock diseases that are controllable. It’s my aspiration that working with GALVmed’s partners and other stakeholders, we shall one day (soon) be in a position whereby, leveraging scientific advancements such as genomics, have a sufficiently diverse portfolio of tools/solutions that meet the needs of smallholder livestock producers. Such solutions should be affordable, abundantly available and widely accessible to the end users.


What are you most proud of accomplishing in your career?

As the founding Director of Africa Technical Research Centre (ATRC) at Vector Health International (VHI), the Board of Directors tasked me with the responsibility of setting up and operationalising a state-of-the-art R&D centre. Prior to joining ATRC, I had worked as a research scientist for nearly 17 years in well-established research institutions (KETRI and KARI). So, the successful establishment of ATRC, building and managing R&D teams and establishing strategic product development partnerships was a significant highlight in my career. By the time of my departure, just about 10 years since ATRC was officially inaugurated, together with my R&D team, and working in close collaboration with our product development partners, we had managed to develop over 10 products for agriculture (livestock and crop protection) and for public health. These products are currently being commercialized across Africa and creating positive impact in the livelihoods of millions of people in this region.

In life, what experience would you say has influenced you the most?

My childhood played an important role in making me the person that I am today. I grew up on a resource poor smallholder farm in rural Kenya (in the then Nyanza Province), where I experienced first-hand, the devastating effects of poverty. My parents raised livestock which were sold to pay for our schooling. They also practiced small-scale crop agriculture for subsistence and to supplement family income. The whole family worked very hard on the farm to earn a living, and I spent a significant part of my early childhood herding livestock. I therefore learned the values of hard work, teamwork, compassion (from herding livestock) and sharing of limited resources quite early in life. These values have stayed with me to date, and I hope to bring them to my new role.

Outside of work, what do you like to do in your free time?

I love spending time with my family. I also enjoy early-morning walks, driving in the countryside and serving at my local church.

Developing a Public Private Partnership Framework for FMD in Eastern Africa

Although Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) have been implemented in Eastern Africa, they have largely been for infrastructural development in the road, water, and energy sectors. Applying PPP approaches in the veterinary sector is still an emerging concept. But now, thanks to the AgResults Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Vaccine Challenge Project, there is a new standardised PPP Framework that highlights the landscape, challenges, and opportunities of PPPs in the FMD vaccine value chain.

The FMD Vaccine Challenge Project is an eight-year, US$17.68 million Pay-for-Results prize competition that encourages the development and uptake of high-quality FMD vaccines tailored to meet the needs of Eastern Africa in six target countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. One of the project’s goals is to develop a private sector model for buying and distributing FMD vaccines to complement public sector efforts in the region. PPP Frameworks can be crucial tools for communicating and raising awareness among key stakeholders. The team knew that creating such a framework for the FMD vaccine value chain could attract private sector investments into the veterinary domain to effectively and efficiently control FMD in the region.

To develop the PPP Framework, the FMD Vaccine Challenge Project team customized aspects of the OIE PPP Handbook into a practical framework, aimed at sparking commitments between partners to strengthen the FMD vaccine value chain in Eastern Africa. Although the OIE PPP Handbook is the single most comprehensive resource on PPP development in the veterinary sector, it only offers general guidelines.

The development process involved seeking views and inputs from the groups in Eastern Africa that would use the tool: veterinarians, para-veterinarians, and representatives from vaccine manufacturers, importers, distributors, livestock enterprises, and farmer organizations. From October 2020 to August 2021, the team engaged these key public and private sector stakeholders to collate feedback on their perspectives and interests in PPPs.  

Although COVID-19 restrictions forced these meetings to be virtual, the discussions were dynamic, and participants provided enthusiastic comments that are summarized and validated in the PPP Framework. To create a stronger enabling environment, participants overwhelmingly identified the need to establish PPPs as well as link existing PPP units with their respective Departments of Veterinary Services. Responding to this feedback, the framework points out key challenges to the establishment of PPPs: lack of awareness of their benefits, trust issues between the public and private sector, and lack of financing. In addition, it identifies and prioritises opportunities for PPPs in vaccine production, purchasing, distribution, delivery, vaccinations, and post-vaccination monitoring for each of the six target countries.

Now that the PPP Framework is finalized, the FMD Vaccine Challenge Project team is focused on promoting its use in manufacturing, purchasing, distribution, and vaccination campaigns. This involves (1) identifying partnerships to promote the PPP Framework in target countries and (2) facilitating PPP MOUs, contracts, and/or informal partnership agreements in those countries.

Making the framework relevant and accessible will hopefully catalyze future PPP arrangements in the FMD vaccine value chain and trigger PPPs in the general veterinary domain.

The full PPP framework is available here. For more information on the AgResults FMD Vaccine Challenge Project, visit the GALVmed and AgResults websites.

Written by Badi Maulidi

Contributing to the Sustainable Supply and Delivery of Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine in Eastern Africa

Endemic throughout Eastern Africa, Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) can devastate livestock productivity and severely hamper small-scale producers’ livelihoods and food security. FMD is a complex disease with a lot of strain variation, and there is currently no suitable vaccine that addresses all the risks in the region. Recognizing these challenges, the AgResults FMD Vaccine Challenge Project encourages the development and uptake of high-quality FMD vaccines tailored to Eastern Africa. The Pay-for-Results prize competition includes several activities to support the long-term sustainability of FMD vaccine supply and delivery in six target countries (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda).

The Project’s cost-share approach supports the sustainable supply of FMD vaccines by partially covering the purchase costs of high-quality FMD vaccines over a four-year period and driving initial uptake. Once the vaccines’ efficacy is demonstrated in the field, regional demand is expected to grow, ensuring a more stable market that ultimately benefits the typical end-users: small-scale producers.

In addition to the cost-share mechanism, the Project team is conducting several other activities to contribute to the long-term sustainability of FMD vaccine supply and delivery in the Eastern African region:

A combination of activities—from ensuring quality standards to coordinating with regional institutions to encourage private sector delivery—is needed to build a stable FMD vaccine market in Eastern Africa when the Project comes to an end. These efforts will enable small-scale producers  to access the vaccines they need to keep their livestock healthy.

For more information on the AgResults FMD Vaccine Challenge Project, visit the GALVmed and AgResults website.

Written by Nina Henning

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.)

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.