About 500 poultry farmers are to be trained in the early detection and treatment of various poultry diseases, as the country seeks to reduce mortality in the poultry sector and meet the growing demand for locally produced chicken.
A recent USAID survey revealed that Ghanaians consume more than two million locally-produced chickens annually. This suggests a vibrant market for live birds, amid concerns over the viability and competitiveness of the broiler industry in the country.
Ghanaian consumers are now eating more and more chicken fueled by a rise in incomes. The country’s per capita income increased from GH¢400 reported in the 2008 published Ghana Living Standard Survey Round 5 (GLSS5) to GH¢5,347 as contained in the GLSS6 released in 2014, implying that the average Ghanaian lives on an average gross income of GH¢14.65 a day.
Broiler producers, the survey notes, generated an estimated GH¢53.6 million from the birds sold, which represents 0.7 percent of the total GDP of the agriculture sector in 2015 and 7.9 percent of the GDP of the livestock sub-sector.
However, outbreak of various poultry diseases such as Newcastle disease and bird flu among others, have a significant impact not just on individual households but also adjacent commercial farms.
To this end, the Ghana Poultry Project (GPP), which is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, has collaborated with the Veterinary Services Department (VSD), under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, to train a number of local community members and equipped them with toolkits. This is to help poultry households address diseases and production challenges.
According to officials of the GPP, it forms part of efforts to ensure the expansion of effective and affordable veterinary services at small holder level, through the use of community members.
It took off with a trainer of trainer workshop for VSD staff across three project regions including the Ashanti, Greater Accra, and Brong Ahafo regions. The 36 trainers went to identify 116 willing community members and trained them on various animal related topics with a focus on poultry production across the three project regions.
The Value Chain Team Leader of GPP, Mr. Kweku Tuoho, said the GPP has a major focus strengthening the capacity of veterinary service providers and poultry input dealers to expand their reach to all commercial poultry producers and smallholder poultry farmers in the project regions.
He explained that this will lead to an improved poultry health and a reduction in poultry mortality, a major setback for poultry producers.
He noted that through the CAWH programme, “GPP will work with VSD to use locally produced poultry production input such as an I-2 vaccine to expand veterinary services and vaccination against the Newcastle disease to all poultry producing households.”
Mr. Tuoho who said these at the presentation of the toolkits to the CAHWs, in Kumasi, charged them to take their task very seriously and work with poultry households in an honest and transparent manner.
The Ashanti Regional Director of MoFA, Rev. John Manu, said the project’s effort to train the local people was in the appropriate and commendable and very timely.
He said the Region is endowered with the right environment for commercial poultry production but insisted that the Newcastle and other poultry diseases which can affect the industry needs to be eradicated to the barest minimum if possible.
Rev. Manu underscored the role of the CAWHs in fighting poultry diseases among local birds, which can transmit diseases easily due to the prevalent ‘free-range system’ common in most villages and small towns.
He urged the CAWHs to use the logistical support from the GPP to double their efforts and duties.
Similarly, the Regional Head of the Veterinary Service Department, Dr. E.E. Effah, asked the CAWHs not to make the exercise a one-day work but continue with the vaccination programme as it should to help achieve the objective of the programme.