Kenyan poultry farmers are set to revolutionize their production capabilities as they gain access to vaccines through the Gender Inclusive Vaccine Ecosystem (GIVE) for Newcastle disease. This breakthrough comes as a relief for small-scale chicken farmers who have long struggled with diseases that hamper their productivity.
Professor Salome Bukachi, the Principal Investigator of the GIVE study project, revealed that a case study conducted in Makueni County showed the potential for poultry farming to generate at least Ksh.7 billion in earnings. Despite the recurring outbreaks of Newcastle disease, which has been a major hindrance to chicken productivity, the study identified solutions that can significantly improve the situation.
One of the key findings of the four-year study was the low uptake of the Newcastle disease vaccine, which stood at a mere 15%. This, combined with the challenge of farmers having to travel long distances to access certified agro vets, and the unavailability of smaller doses of vaccine vials, has impeded progress. Smallholder farmers, who often lack knowledge and skills in poultry management practices, struggle to afford the available sets of 100 vials of vaccines.
Newcastle disease is notorious for wiping out entire flocks, forcing farmers to start from scratch. Professor Bukachi emphasized the importance of preventing this devastating disease through improved vaccination efforts. She reiterated the need to address the various diseases that affect chicken productivity, with Newcastle disease being a significant concern.
Dr. Judith Chemuliti, a research scientist at KALRO, highlighted the impact of Newcastle disease on chicken production, leading to high mortality rates and depriving farmers of better incomes and improved livelihoods. While vaccines for Newcastle disease are readily available and effective, inadequate knowledge and limited access have prevented many farmers from vaccinating their flocks.
The GIVE project, a four-year vaccine research study conducted by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in collaboration with the University of Nairobi (UON) and Cooperative University of Kenya (CUK), has already shown promising results. As a result, women involved in poultry farming have been able to climb the socioeconomic ladder, moving from lower to upper levels.
Rearing indigenous chicken has proven to be a profitable income-generating venture for small-scale farmers in rural areas, offering them the opportunity to break free from the clutches of poverty. While the market value of indigenous chicken is higher compared to broilers, disease control has been a significant challenge, hindering women farmers from fully realizing their potential in terms of returns.
With the introduction of GIVE and the increased access to vaccines, Kenyan poultry farmers can now look forward to a brighter future. Improved disease control measures will boost productivity, increase incomes, and transform the livelihoods of farmers, especially women, who play a crucial role in this sector. The nation’s poultry industry is set to flourish as the barriers to accessing vaccines are overcome, paving the way for sustainable growth and prosperity.
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