Poultry health

Poultry production is essential to food security in rural northern Nigeria and Propcom Mai-karfi’s research has revealed that 60–87% of northern Nigerian women in poor rural households keep chickens, raising a flock size of 16–18 birds.  Outbreaks of diseases are a frequent and devastating occurrence for domestic poultry, and Newcastle disease is the biggest threat for indigenous chicken breeds. Its appearance regularly, especially during the dry season kills 90–100% of a flock. Therefore, investing in larger flocks is a burden that few smallholder farmers are willing to take on.

This is exacerbated by under-capacity in veterinary services. Nigeria’s estimated 600 million farmed animals are served by only around 10,000 veterinarians. Most of these work for larger commercial enterprises based in urban or peri-urban areas. The widely dispersed rural population and poor transport infrastructure, together with the perception that smallholders will be unwilling or unable to pay, makes veterinary practise in rural communities unattractive and impractical. Communities often have to rely on unskilled and unqualified practitioners or quacks. As a result, diseases spread quickly among rural livestock and makes animal mortality high.

In 2013, Propcom Mai-karfi (PM) commenced collaborating with National Veterinary Research Institute to manufacture doses of thermostable Newcastle Disease vaccines (NDV-i2). Propcom Mai-karfi additionally partnered with private company Agriprojects Concepts International Ltd (ACI) on a distribution and vaccination channel for the NDV-i2 vaccine. Following the successful piloting and expansion of a vaccination programme for smallholder poultry using trained village-based vaccinators, Propcom Mai-karfi worked with the Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN) to give veterinary services a greater reach in rural areas.

VCN and PM partnered to revise and make a manual and curriculum available for training and regulating the services of Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs). The curriculum is now being introduced state by state for the expansion of CAHWs. PM has raised widespread interest among vaccine manufacturers and distributors to leverage on this intervention to expand their market penetration, starting with the humble but very important village chicken. By working with the private sector and regulators, Propcom Mai-karfi is continuing to bring advancement for all: healthier animals for rural entrepreneurs; services and disease surveillance in ‘hard to reach’ regions; regulation to prevent quackery; and enhanced food security for the country.


Improved local chicken production and marketing

According to a survey conducted by Propcom Mai-karfi (2015), 51% of rural chicken producers do not invest in feed or medication for their chickens. Combined with poor production practices, these have resulted in increased bird mortality and small-sized birds of lower commercial quality. In 2016 PM piloted an intervention which sort to address inadequate knowledge and investment in local chickens by rural producers, and to link this to a component which will address aggregation, processing, and ultimately supply to high-end markets. PM facilitated education and adoption of improved production practices in the area of good breed selection, shelter, supplementary feeding, vaccination and health management, early weaning and brooding, and business practice. The improved production training was part of PM’s broader poultry strategy to raise the economic importance of local chickens in rural households, creating a shift towards viewing local chickens as a vital source of income.

To create access to formal markets for rural producers, local chicken processors (L&Z and Nkataa) were identified to process and package local chickens collected from rural producers using an efficient aggregation model developed by the processors with support from PM. PM also brokered an agreement with Shoprite, the biggest retail chain in Nigeria. Shoprite now stocks the local chicken brand packaged by PM’s partner, L&Z. Packaged local chickens are now being sold on Nkataa’s online store and in Shoprite outlets across Nigeria as a result of PM’s work.