Welcome to the home of Mrs Nelesi Henry from Gomani village, Mchinji.
Demonstrating outcomes for rural households in Malawi – economic and food security and climate change adaptation amidst COVID-19 upheaval.
Mrs Nelesi Henry is one of the many small-scale poultry farmers in Malawi that have benefitted from ‘Village Poultry for Better Livelihoods (VP4BL) project – an Australian NGO Cooperation Program project funded by the Australian government. Kyeema is implementing this now 3-year long project with local partner Rural Poultry Centre (RPC) Malawi. Since 2019 when Nelesi started participating on the project, her chickens have been healthy and multiplied enough to provide returns to keep her family “comfortable” as she puts it.
The main activity of the VP4BL is control of Newcastle disease (ND) through regular vaccination of poultry with the government made I-2 vaccine. In the initial phase of the project, Nelesi was trained and equipped as a community-based poultry worker (CBPW) thus establishing a small business vaccinating chickens against Newcastle disease in regular (quarterly) vaccination campaigns in her area. This setup support included being provided with a bicycle to cover more households, a working uniform to be identified and specially designed vaccination equipment to ensure quality vaccine delivery in this rural setting.
Before this project she recalls she would regularly lose most if not all her chickens due to frequent outbreaks of Newcastle disease.
Nelesi meeting with other trained and equipped community-based poultry workers in her community.
Photo credit: Silvester Mkandawire, Rural Poultry Centre Malawi.
“I remember before the start of the project, I had 24 chickens and 22 of these succumbed to Newcastle. I vaccinated the remaining 2 have regularly since then and Chitopa [Newcastle disease] is history now.”
Nelesi showing her chick care unit to other community-based poultry workers.
Photo credit: Silvester Mkandawire, RPC Malawi.
Nelesi now owns 24 chickens again (this is the number she likes to maintain) and reports she sells chickens and eggs periodically to buy household basic needs like soap, salt, school needs for her children and family medical bills. Some chickens are slaughtered for consumption and some of the eggs laid are eaten. Importantly from a regenerative agriculture perspective Nelesi gets manure from her chickens and applies it to her vegetable and Irish potato garden which in her experience produces better harvests. Nelesi has gone a step further by setting up a chick care unit to mitigate the high loss of chicks before weaning. The unit has assisted her reduce the mortality of hatched chicks thereby boosting her chicken numbers. Nelesi has also been able to share this approach with fellow farmers and CBPWs.
“I take pride in vaccinating fellow farmers’ poultry. I offer my service at an affordable fee – just enough to cover vaccine cost, other inputs and a small profit.”
During the last vaccination campaign Nelesi vaccinated 2,002 chickens for 62 farmers and managed to realize a profit of 80,000 Malawian Kwatcha (~AUD 120/USD 80). She has used this profit towards roofing of her house (under construction), replacing poles for her dairy cow kraal, and a maintenance service for the bicycle she uses during vaccination work.
“I am so happy doing this work in the community to ensure other farmers do not face the deadly Chitopa [Newcastle disease]. It has raised my profile; I am now held in high esteem in the community.”
Her future plan includes acquiring knowledge and skills to help diagnose, control and treat other poultry diseases that are a threat in the community such as Infectious Coryza and worm infestations. This way she will be able to build her services offered to expand profits.
Learn more about the wider ANCP project on our website here.
We acknowledge the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) for this project.