I want to open a poultry farm and hatch chicks to sell to people to rear. So that they too can have something they can do to survive. These are my hopes and aspirations. – Saidu Naziru, CAHW from Jigawa State
Inadequate or no access to quality veterinary drugs and services for smallholder farmers is a critical impediment to improving the health of livestock in rural communities. Propcom responds to this problem through her Animal Health interventions. Working with government, research and private sector entities including the Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN), National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), Ambuvets, and Tropical Poultry Limited, Propcom established the rural delivery system to make animal health products and services accessible to rural communities. Propcom also trained entrepreneurial individuals at the grassroots level as Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW) to deliver these products and services, including vaccines, and make a small business out of it and generate income for themselves.
Farming and livestock production are the main income generators for the people of Gwaram LGA in Jigawa State, North East Nigeria. However, livestock vaccination or seeking proper animal healthcare is not common practice. So, when disease strikes, farmers defer to using ill-approved medication that have little effect or slaughter and sell their livestock below the going price to prevent total loss from death.
Saidu Naziru, a diploma holder in animal health and technology and father of two, is one of a small group of animal healthcare practitioners servicing livestock farmers in Gwaram. He, along with about 50 others, was trained and certified as a CAHW through Propcom’s partnership with VCN and the Jigawa State government in 2019. Participating in the training changed Saidu’s life and the way he practices his trade as it brought to light gaps in their knowledge in animal health care management.
We were just about 50 animal health care providers in Gwaram community, and we often make mistakes in the areas related to the treatment of livestock. Before, we could not differentiate among medications that will terminate the problem [animal disease] completely or those that will simply reduce it.
During the training, Saidu and the others were also taught to protect themselves from getting infected while providing service. It was obvious that being trained as a CAHW was a turning point in Saidu’s life because he went from earning a meagre income buying, fattening and selling livestock to owning a business selling agro-veterinary products and providing veterinary services. His income improved and Saidu said he is now better able to provide for his family.
In the past, I make N200 (£0.42) to N300 ((£0.62) on bad days, and as much as N500 (£1) to N1,000 (£2) on good days. I am now a big dealer of agrovet products in Gwaram and when I treat just two to three cattle, I make a lot of profit that is sufficient to cater for myself and my family.
Apart from personal gains to Saidu and his family, the community also benefits as Saidu is imparting knowledge to four apprentices he has taken under his wings. He also makes a point of educating his customers about misconceptions and unfriendly practices whenever he encounters them. Saidu’s status has gone up in the society; he has become a well-known and respected member of his community such that other practitioners reach out to him for solutions.
There are two [apprentices] in my shop and there are some others I teach and send around to do minor treatment so they can earn a living from there as well. I have become so competent that even other livestock health service providers in my community do refer difficult cases to me to assist them.
Saidu was quick to attribute his success to the support received from Propcom and her partners. He said that the training, initial free products and motorcycle received, along with some money he’d saved were instrumental in helping him start his business. However, the journey has not been easy. Saidu said he faced many challenges, especially the high cost of veterinary product prices he initially purchased from Jigawa State. But he overcame this difficulty by purchasing from Kano where products are comparatively cheaper.
What gave me the courage and strength to undertake this task is the assistance we received since the training. They gave me one [ free] carton of agrovet medication. It was very effective and people patronised us and work was going fine. They gave us brand new motorcycles on the condition that we pay N7,500 (£15.7) monthly. I used to have challenges. But since we were certified after the CAHW training, the certificate issued to me serves as an identity card. It has made accessing and buying these agrovet products from Kano very easy; whenever it is with me, there is no hindrance.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected Saidu’s income, particularly during the lockdown period. He was unable to visit his customers to
provide service as usual and many of his clients, who are Fulani herdsmen, were unable go to the market to sell their animals and make
money to buy medicine. Saidu said that as business starts up again with the easing of the lockdown, he has taken precautions to
safeguard himself, his family and his workers by adhering to government prevention instructions.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, Saidu is hopeful for the future. He hopes to venture into poultry farming and sell chicks to poultry
farmers. However, he appeals to Propcom and her partners to assist with improving availability of essential medicines that are frequently used for livestock health management.