Protecting livestock saves human lives
The situation for agricultural producers in Sub-Saharan Africa has never been easy, but in times of the global pandemic, it is even more critical. The pandemic has also exacerbated the situation in our MMH area in Bungoma County. Due to the restrictions on mobility between rural and urban areas, enforced through police checks and road closures, local farmers have reduced access to agricultural inputs such as feed and veterinary medicines. This results in a reduced average life span for the animals as they cannot be treated or fed sufficiently. From an affordability perspective, the reduced ability of small-scale producers to market their products is leading to a sharp drop in revenue, reducing their purchasing power. Many restaurants and markets have had to close in the wake of the Corona crisis, which means that many farmers are unable to sell their products and to generate an independent income. The decline in sales seems to be particularly affecting the market for eggs and milk and creating a vicious cycle in which reduced opportunities to sell are causing a surplus, in turn causing a fall in prices leading to reduced income for farmers if/when they do get to market. In addition, the reduction in the farmers’ purchasing power is coupled with an increase in prices of agricultural inputs, caused by the stock challenges suffered by agro-dealers mentioned above. 1 You can find this and more information in an article by Archipel&Co about the impact of the COVID-19 global crisis on the livelihoods of small-scale producers and those actors directly involved in the provision of animal health products and services in Kenya and other Sub-Saharan African countries. See article here.
Co-creation through digital innovation
In May 2020, the Boehringer Ingelheim initiative LastMile launched their app in several African countries, including in Kenya. Now field forces and teams working on the “LastMile”can use this mobile application to better support farms' day-to-day management in Africa. An important step in the mission of the initiative - through the helpful applications, more small scale producers will be able to join the program and benefit from it. The LastMile team is now able to manage their day-to-day activities and work more effectively with farmers, retailers and veterinarians. The objective for rolling out the use of the app is to monitor the activities accurately, collect data, measure the impact and reach of the initiative, as well as to improve the understanding and knowledge about the smallholder farmers sector for better-informed decision-making in the future. In addition, the app has proven critical in the current times of social distancing and holistic safety measures for regular and easy interactions with all our stakeholders.
Education is key
Through the collaboration with the LastMile initiative, Making More Health aims to support our local farmers community in Bungoma County to improve their livelihood. Since October 2019, 108 farmers, 45 specialist dealers and 36 Animal Health practitioners from the LastMile team have already been reached. The farmers took part in special training courses in which they learned to protect their animals from disease and to treat them properly. This training is essential - many farmers have not received training in livestock farming before.
The next phase of the project will help local farmers to create a market for their products. Bungoma County does not have its own dairy service so far, which is why dairy farmers face an infrastructural problem. The demand for milk and dairy products like yogurt is high in Kenya. In the future, the LastMile team wants to look at how the available resources can be used to better transport the milk in a refrigeration system.
The feedback from our MMH farmer community is very positive
“Initially, the project focused on farmer’s education about animal health only. Over time, the LastMile teams discovered unmet needs and we adapted the training and the messages keeping on mind the improvement of livelihood of the farmers”, says Lazare Tano who trains the farmers in our project area.