For many decades now, the Newcastle disease has been the major setback to productive guinea fowl rearing in Saboba, a predominantly farming town in the Eastern corridor of the Northern Ghana.
The annual mortality rate of guinea fowls in the Saboba District ranges from 95 to 100%. Several attempts to revert the trend have been faced with many challenges, including poor veterinary services, inadequate financial support, and lack of skills/techniques in the rearing of the birds among others.
The farmers, in 2003, formed a co-operative society dubbed Kakpeni Co-operative Guinea Fowl Farmers Society Limited (KCGFFSL).
Though their first attempt in July 2008 with a stakeholders' workshop did not yield the desired objective, the farmers have seen the need to resort to awareness creation and advocacy action to bring an end to the annual outbreak of Newcastle disease affecting guinea fowls in the district.
With financial support of GHÂÂ¢32,000 from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund, and with strong collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), the farmers conducted a survey which revealed that 30% of the members of the Kakpeni Cooperative Guinea Fowl Farmers Society rear guinea fowls as their major economic activity.
100% of the respondents believe that guinea fowl production has the potential of reducing poverty, ensuring food security, providing employment, promoting local economic development, and generating revenue to the district assembly.
The respondents acknowledged the fact that the Newcastle disease was a serious challenge to the production of the birds, and was more devastating to keets than grown guinea fowls.
March is reported to be the month in which a high (80%) mortality rate of keets occurs, followed by August (60%), January (45%), and lowest month June (15%).
Veterinary services are poor in the Saboba District, as about 75% do not seek their services.
55% also indicated that it was very difficult to get veterinary services.
The Newcastle disease is regarded as the single most important challenge to guinea fowl production in the Saboba district. It kills up to 60% of keets annually, while 55% of the farmers use self medication to treat their fowls, 27.5% use herbs, while 12.5% use Veterinary services, and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture offers little assistance to guinea fowl farmers, as indicated by 75% of the respondents.
After putting out the outcome of the survey, the farmers also made the following recommendations. In view of the importance of guinea fowl production as a business venture, many people should be encouraged to rear guinea fowls.
Most especially, more women should be assisted to rear them.
The MOFA, in collaboration with the District Assembly, should take proactive measures to control the Newcastle disease, as it proves to be a drawback on guinea fowl production; farmers must be educated as to how to handle the birds to avoid recording high lost.
Drugs should be made available and affordable to enable the farmers use them, and guinea fowl farmers should be educated to start the keets in June, as the mortality rate among them is very low compared to March; and veterinary services should be used rather than self medication and herbs, as these have proven not to be effective.
In exclusive interview with The Chronicle in Saboba, the Chairman of the Kakpeni Co-operative Guinea Fowl Farmers Society Limited (KCGFFSL), Rev. Djankpa N. Peter, thanked BUSAC for the support, and disclosed that his group had a membership 107, made up of 35 women and 70 men from nine communities.
The communities are Kakpeni, Galimata, Borkpalbu, Wayuu, Kiteek, Kimoteek communities 'A' and 'B' and Sobiiba, and Bungbaal.