The KYEEMA connection in Malawi: the story of Australian veterinarian Pat Boland.

Dr Pat Boland is the founder of the Rural Poultry Centre (RPC) in Malawi, and a recent addition to the KYEEMA Board of Directors. Originally a government veterinarian in Australia, he worked for the Malawi government in the early 1990s, raising his three children there, and then returned in recent times as a volunteer for the Small Scale Livestock and Livelihood Program (SSLLP). He saw the need to focus efforts on supporting village poultry farmers, particularly through control of Newcastle disease (ND). So in 2013, he continued the volunteer experience by setting up the RPC. The RPC has a Board of Trustees comprising people from the Malawi government, universities and NGOs, and is managed by a small working team of Pat as interim Director, and Mr Luka Tumbwe – a poultry expert now retired after a long career with the Malawi government.

Mr Tumbwe – the jovial other half of the RPC team.

Their office at the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL) in Lilongwe is hosted by the Malawian government, which is a huge support to the organisation. In return, RPC offers support to staff at the CVL who produce the I-2 ND vaccine. RPC also collaborates with a variety of organisations including SSLLP, InterAide, Land O-Lakes, Concern Worldwide and Peace Corps, who are all working with small scale farmers. RPC’s first significant work was in Ntichisi district, funded with generous support from GRM (now Palladium). The project trained village vaccinators in acquiring and distributing the vaccine as a business, as well as training them in improved poultry husbandry so they can disseminate this knowledge to farmers as a value-added service. To date, RPC has trained over 60 community based vaccinators, resulting in the vaccination of over 100,000 birds. They are now looking to expand their activities to Mchinji district and are investigating running an ethical tourism fundraising venture which would allow Australians to go on safari in Malawi and meet the program beneficiaries at the same time.