By Smart Farmer Writer
The livestock and fisheries sectors in Kenya, including farmers, are set to benefit from a new initiative dubbed, African Livestock Productivity and Health Advancement Plus (A.L.P.H.A Plus), following its launch recently in Nairobi.
The five-year initiative
The five-year initiative, co-funded by global animal health company Zoetis and Bill and Melinda Gates, aims to improve veterinary health and food security, focusing on cattle production, poultry, and aquaculture and will also be carried out in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and extend to additional markets including Ivory Coast and other markets in West, East and Central Sub-Saharan Africa
This initiative will seek to further animal health and farmers’ livelihoods through enhanced training, with a target of training 100,000 stakeholders by 2025. There will be a strong focus on gender diversity, including women-led, female-only training courses that are optimally designed to maximize attendance. Zoetis will also develop distribution and training models for ‘last mile’ networks, build disease diagnostic services through laboratory networks in cooperation with public and private local partners, and develop outcomes research and digital services.
“We are happy to have A.L.P.H.A Plus here with us in the next five years and possibly beyond. We know that your presence in other countries before has contributed immensely to the development of the livestock industry, thereby improving livelihoods. We trust that your presence here in Kenya will have a similar impact on the livelihoods of our people,” said Dr Obadiah Njagi, director of Veterinary Services, State department of livestock development ministry of Agriculture in Kenya during the meeting that was attended by key local stakeholders representing the veterinary and farming sector.
$15.3 million grant
The A.L.P.H.A Plus initiative is a continuation of the A.L.P.H.A initiative that was first launched in 2017 in four African countries- Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. This first event in Kenya marks the significant progress made on the continent as the company prepares to expand its support, with the $15.3 million Innovative Animal Health Models for Small-Scale Producers grant it received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation received in March 2023.
“We are very proud to continue our support on the continent, and having the opportunity to bring our local stakeholders together to discuss innovative ideas is invaluable for advancing our productivity,” said Drees Beekman, Senior Vice President Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa of Zoetis.
“The new target is to train 100,000 stakeholders by 2025, and it is extremely important that we continue to focus on gender diversity to improve the livelihoods of women within these regions,” he added.
As with the first initiative, gender diversity is a strong focus, with Zoetis looking to specifically develop opportunities for female farmers. Using expertise gained from the first A.L.P.H.A initiative, which saw 26,000 farmers, veterinarians and para-veterinarians trained in veterinary care (approximately 30 per cent of whom were women), funding will be used to further develop women-led, female-only training courses optimally designed to maximize attendance.
Scaling up fish production in the region is another key objective for Zoetis, which is exploring opportunities in Lake Victoria and Lake Volta, using knowledge backed by its aquatic health business PHARMAQ to help understand the veterinary and productivity requirements of small-scale fish producers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“With tilapia being one of the fastest growing animal protein sources in emerging markets, facilitating its geographic expansion and scalability can have a significant, positive impact on sustainable nutrition and economic growth in the region,” Zoetis says.
Impacts of the first initiative
As part of the company’s Driven to care long-term sustainability commitments, the first A.L.P.H.A initiative, which was launched in 2017, helped to establish sustainable veterinary care in Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania and Ethiopia over the course of five years. It saw more than 128 million animals treated, 91 innovative veterinary products made commercially available, and helped open 16 diagnostic laboratories.
The launch event that was held in a Nairobi hotel included a roundtable discussion where speakers focused on how collaboration can ensure sustainability of veterinary services to livestock farmers in the region and explored the potential for public-private partnerships to improve local economies. It also investigated ways of improving the distribution of veterinary products to the last mile and access to trainings and services to female veterinarians and farmers.
Zoetis is a world leading animal health company, a Fortune 500 company, it purpose is to nurture our world and humankind by advancing care for animals. It has been in business for more than 70 years and deals in medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and technologies in over 100 countries. Zoetis generated revenue of $8.1 billion in 2022 with approximately 13,800 employees.