Livestock production in smallholder systems exists throughout the developing world. Livestock contributes considerably to the livelihood strategies of the poor and can be an important source of income and nutrition.
However, smallholder farmers consistently battle livestock diseases, most of which are preventable with vaccination. The challenge has always been a gap in product and service provision that is targeted mainly to the smallholder markets, as big pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to invest in these markets for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons have been: the smallholder market is difficult to penetrate, requires time and is often non-profitable. But the smallholder market is undoubtedly still a large one, supporting the livelihoods of 600 million poor smallholder farmers in the developing world. This market is increasingly becoming more organised to tap into products and services offered by pharmaceutical companies.
Consequently, it is crucial that animal health products and services be made more available and accessible to this market. This demand requires manufacturing innovations to produce products that are adaptable to smallholder farmers who own less livestock and cannot afford to buy products in bulk like commercial farmers.
The Global Alliance for Livestock and Veterinary Medicine (GALVmed) has been pioneering such innovations through global partners to address these livestock health issues facing smallholder farmers.
GALVmed and its partners’ initiatives develop livestock health products for the smallholder market while finding efficient and profitable ways to deliver these products and services to farmers.
For example, to combat the deadly Newcastle disease, GALVmed worked with partners, such as Hester Biosciences Ltd in India, to make available a low cost thermo-tolerant vaccine in small dose packs. This vaccine has widely been adopted by smallholder farmers in India. The adoption has been attributed to adapting the vaccine attributes (thermo-tolerance and pack size) to smallholder farmers’ needs, and identifying and strengthening a profitable and sustainable value chain for the product.
“Since October 2014, approximately 46 million doses of the ND vaccine have been delivered to over 700,000 households in the three states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh – covering 42 districts,” said Dr Rahul Srivastava, GALVmed’s Market Development Officer for South Asia.
GALVmed and its partners have also introduced another novel vaccine targeting porcine cysticercosis (PC), which can lead to a preventable form of epilepsy in humans and production losses for smallholder farmers. The disease is mostly prevalent in places where sanitation is poor, thus affecting many smallholder farmers in rural communities.
Professor Marshall Lightowlers of the University of Melbourne developed the first vaccine, named TSOL18, for PC. It is now commercially produced by Indian Immunologicals Limited under the brand name Cysvax – the first-ever licensed vaccine against PC – and now available in India and expanding soon into other South and South East Asia markets.
The first PC vaccination project, held in Nepal and overseen by our partners Heifer International Nepal, vaccinated more than 500 pigs by February 2017. During this project, surveys indicated that smallholder farmers are willing to purchase the vaccine together with a de-wormer because of the health and economic benefits associated with the products.
These initiatives clearly demonstrate that the smallholder market is a viable one and innovative products targeting them will not only be profitable but sustainable.
Thorton, P.K. (2010). Livestock production: recent trends, future prospects. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 365 1554 2853-2867
Written by: Prasenjit De of Alternatives for GALVmed