Notes to broadcasters
In Mali, nearly 70% of people live in rural areas and rely on growing crops, raising livestock, and fishing. Raising chickens is part of their daily routine. The birds breed quickly, are easy to feed, and bring a profit. Chickens are a “mobile bank” for villagers in Mali; the money they receive from selling the poultry helps them cover occasional family expenses.
In Bougouni District, poultry farming has become the main activity of young people. These young people have decided to remain in the villages because selling chickens provides them with a significant profit, which enables them to meet their family’s major needs.
This is the case with Soumaïla Diakité, a 28-year-old man who, after spending two years in the city, decided to return to his village to raise chickens. But, like most poultry farmers in the area, he was faced with Newcastle disease. This disease has a considerable impact on poultry farmers, despite the efforts of government and local NGOs. Newcastle disease does not have a cure, but there is a vaccine which can prevent it. Part of the problem is that farmers prefer to take care of their chickens themselves instead of asking the few local veterinarians for help.
In this script, we visit a young poultry farmer in a village in the district of Bougouni, 160 kilometres from Mali’s capital city, Bamako. On the day of our visit, a veterinary technician is vaccinating the farmer’s birds against Newcastle disease, which devastated his flock the previous year.
Moussa Koné is a veterinary technician and the head of livestock production in Bougouni District. He vaccinates and otherwise takes care of chickens in villages near Bougouni, and he advises farmers how to prevent poultry diseases in general, and particularly Newcastle disease, which he calls “the most dangerous avian disease.” In the script, he advises the young farmer who asked him to help save his chickens.
You might choose to present this script as part of your regular farming program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could also use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on managing chicken diseases or similar topics in your country.
Talk to farmers and experts who raise chickens or are knowledgeable about the birds. You might ask them:
- Do households keep chickens in your area?
- Do farmers use free-range systems, or do they confine their birds for part or all of their lives?
What are the major chicken disease challenges in your area? What solutions have poultry farmers and other experts found for these challenges?
Apart from speaking directly to farmers and other key players in the local agriculture sector, you could use these questions as the basis for a phone-in or text-in program.
Estimated running time for this item is 15-20 minutes, including intro and outro.
My name is Mariam Koné and I am a reporter with L’Annonceur, a women-led newspaper. I will take you to the village of Flaboula, in Bougouni District, 160 kilometres from Bamako. In this program, we learn how poultry farmer Soumaïla Diakité saved his chickens from Newcastle disease, thanks to a veterinary technician’s advice. Following an outbreak on his farm, the young farmer did not quit, but brought new chickens. This time, he decided to call on a veterinary technician. The technician gives him advice and vaccinates his chickens. Let’s listen to the farmer’s story.
The noise of our motorbike awoke the birds, which scattered in a well-weeded yard. There are two straw-roofed henhouses at the end of the yard, and piles of crushed maize, sorghum, and millet, mixed with cereal bran. Over the next few minutes, chickens and guinea fowls scattered the ground cereal, looking for grains.
A field of maize surrounds the young farmer’s yard. A tall man wearing grey pants and a red T-shirt with small holes walks out from the field. It is Soumaïla Diakité, a married man with three children, despite his young age. He walks toward us smiling and places the ears of maize he has just harvested on the ground. He greets my guide before shaking hands with me courteously.
Most poultry farmers refuse to vaccinate their chickens because they are convinced that it’s the vaccine that kills them. But the vaccine doesn’t kill; it’s the bad storage system and the failure to give the right dose that’s a serious threat to the birds.
I advise Soumaïla and other farmers not to listen to what non-specialists say. Veterinary services are available for all farmers. They just need to organize themselves and let us know which day suits them, so that we can come and vaccinate their birds. It is a pleasure for us.
In some cases, the highly virulent strain can kill many birds, even though the birds show only a few outward signs of the disease.
With the slightly virulent form, chickens can also die without showing any symptoms, other than messy feathers, wings hanging down, and lack of energy and appetite.
Birds with the highly virulent form may tremble or have convulsions. They may also have movement problems in their wings and legs, a circling walk, spasms, or paralysis. There may be greenish diarrhea, egg production may stop or be reduced, and eggs may have an unusual colour, shape, or shell.
Mortality can reach 100%. This form of Newcastle disease can be mistaken for avian flu. Avian flu is very contagious. It spreads quickly and human beings can be contaminated by sick birds or contaminated material. Human beings can die from avian flu. That is why you should report any case where there is high mortality of domestic and wild birds to the relevant authorities.
Farmers should ensure that birds are vaccinated as soon as they hatch and give them a booster dose one week later, or fifteen days at the latest. This can help immunize the birds for five or six months against Newcastle disease. The booster dose corrects primary vaccinations which failed.
Also, poultry farmers must set up effective procedures to prevent the disease from entering their farm. When the virus appears in a flock which is not in good health, farmers can be sure that all their birds will be infected within two to six days.
After vaccinating chickens the first day, we give vitamins to farmers to mix with chicks’ drinking water. Farmers must give vitamins to the chicks during the entire vaccination period.
So chicks should receive a booster dose once a week for three weeks following the first vaccine if you want them to be completely immunized against Newcastle disease. Farmers shouldnotwait for the cold period before preparing the birds. Newcastle disease is everywhere, and it can occur at any time if chickens do not receive the vaccine.”
It’s very important to always ask a veterinary to vaccinate the birds, and apply all the veterinarian’s advice. This is essential if you want to save your chickens from Newcastle disease.
Thanks for your kind attention. I hope you had an excellent time listening to La voix des paysans. See you next week.
Contributed by: Mariam Koné, journalist at L’Annonceur newspaper
Reviewed by: Moussa Koné, Head of Livestock Industry Unit, Local Service of Animal Products (SLPIA), Bougouni, Mali
Website of the Malian Ministry of Rural Development: www.developpementrural.gouv.ml
Soumaïla Diakité, poultry farmer in Flaboula village
Moussa Koné, veterinary technician
Date of interviews: September 11, 2015