Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) in partnership with The African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) has launched a vaccination exercise to eradicate previously neglected poultry diseases to minimise losses incurred by farmers.
For the last five years, records indicate that Newcastle disease has claimed over 1.5 million birds causing an approximate loss of US$13.6m. Newcastle disease is a contagious bird disease affecting many domestic and wild avian species.
Poultry farmers will for the first time have their birds vaccinated against the disease.
Human exposure to infected birds can cause mild conjunctivitis and influenza-like symptoms, but otherwise, the Newcastle disease virus (NDV) poses no hazards to human health.
No treatment for NDV exists, but the use of prophylactic vaccines and sanitary measures reduce the likelihood of an outbreak.
The initiative is part of the African Union's move aimed at eradicating neglected diseases in poultry.
Addressing farmers, the Director of Veterinary Services at RAB, Dr. Vianney Otto Muhinda, said the exercise will be implemented in two phases, targeting mainly commercial famers.
"Apart from vaccinating, we shall also go down to grass root farmers to encourage and sensitise them on the best practices of poultry, as well as measures to be taken so as to increase on their profitability,"
Dr. Landry Ndriko Mayigane, Hatchery and Poultry Specialist, said the programme is expected to be completed in a month.
"We have three million doses for the pilot project and our target is 1.5 million farmers; but as a way of sustaining the programme, government has plans to make it benefit more famers," Mayigane said.
A farmer from Rulindo District, Jean Marie Vianney Ngiruwonsanga, said that, "We are really grateful for the vaccine.
But some farmers out there are not well versed with poultry farming; they lack the knowledge to identify diseases affecting birds."