Poultry farming is becoming an important source of income and food for rural families across Uganda but this business is highly threatened by Newcastle disease, a highly infectious viral disease. While there is no cure for Newcastle Disease, vaccination is enough to control the disease and protect poultry now a new I-2 vaccine in Uganda is making a difference to farmer in parts of the country.
That could be history with the newly registered I-2 vaccine is that it is thermotolerant, which means it can be stored for longer without refrigeration in temperatures up to 37â - ¦C without any temperature variations.
The I-2 vaccine according to the manufacturers is much more user-friendly to even in remote rural areas because poultry keepers can administer the liquid vaccine themselves directly into birds' eyes or nostrils.
The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) has partnered with private vaccine manufacturer, Brentec, based in Kampala to ensure supply of the vaccine called Kukustar to Ugandan farmers.
Together, Brentec and GALVmed are using a private sector model to effectively distribute the vaccine to farmers through agrovets.
Under this model, farmers pay a small fee to purchase the vaccine from agrovet businesses that, in turn, order the vaccine in bulk from Brentec.
By paying a small fee, farmers appreciate the economic value of the vaccine in comparison to free-distribution models, which often only last as long as a project or campaign is funded.
Brian Bigirwa, Quality Assurance Manager at Brentec says most initiatives fail because people give out the vaccine for free and yet farmers don't understand the value of the vaccine.
Bigiriwa says if a farmer spends as little as one hundred shillings on the vaccine and they manage to sell the healthy chicken for 12,000 shillings, they can see the value.
Sarah Nanzala, a farmer who has been rearing chicken for more than five years has noticed a huge difference since using the vaccine.
"I used to rear 50 chickens and around 20 would die as a result of Newcastle Disease. But since I started using Kukustar none of my chickens have died. I have been able to pay my children's school fees. I urge all farmers to use Kukustar vaccine and ask that manufacturers like Brentec keep bringing it to us."
Muchiri Stephen is another farmer who has realised the importance of vaccinating chickens using Kukustar: "We are lucky that whenever we need to, we can vaccinate our birds. The fact that we can reduce the mortality rate of the birds is making farmers love keeping the birds."
Creating a long-term, viable vaccination market for poultry makes sense for all those involved.
"Kukustar is very good compared to other products which come around and stay for a few years and then disappear off the market," explains vet and Kukustar distributor, Dr Nahamya Florence.
"Now that the vaccine is available, people are increasing their numbers of poultry and also their stocks of Kukustar. Of course, this means I also have a job and food on the table. But, at the same time, I feel happy that my customers' welfare is improved. So I believe the vaccine is doing a very good job in Uganda's economy, 80% of which relies on agriculture," Dr Florence explains.
Samson Ojakol, an Extension worker for Buyengo sub-county in Jinja district, thinks the public-private partnership between GALVmed and Brentec is a wonderful approach, "the poultry industry in Uganda was neglected before," he says. "Now we're saving the life of birds and improving the lives of people."