How Digital Innovation Will Unlock the Potential of Africa’s Livestock Producers – GALVmed

How Digital Innovation Will Unlock the Potential of Africa’s Livestock Producers - GALVmed

How Digital Innovation Will Unlock the Potential of Africa’s Livestock Producers Written by Enrique Hernández Pando, Head of Commercial Development & Impact , and Tom Osebe, Senior Manager, Commercial Development & Impact, Africa. Originally published by Farming First. New animal health platforms are needed to unleash the commercial and development potential of small-scale livestock producers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Home to tens of millions of small-scale livestock producers and a quarter of the world’s livestock, Sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to become the commercial powerhouse of the animal health industry. For decades, however, a variety of investment barriers have prevented animal health companies from tapping into this potential. A lack of market data and intelligence makes investment a challenging proposition and the widely dispersed and often remote farms tended by small-scale producers are a challenge to veterinary service networks. This is not just bad news for business. Limited investment has denied the continent’s small-scale producers the same access to quality animal health products and expertise as their counterparts in the Global North. Reliant on limited and often unregulated medicines and unable to meet regularly with vets, millions of small-scale producers are forced to raise their animals sub-optimally, impacting profits. Livestock’s proven ability to fuel sustainable development through increased incomes, improved nutrition and economic prosperity is being curtailed. Now for the good news. With digital innovations that are already being developed, we can unleash the enormous potential of Sub-Saharan Africa’s small-scale livestock producers and turbo-charge the animal health industry. Market intelligence platform Establishing prosperous and sustainable animal health markets is a long-term goal of the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), an organisation dedicated to making livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics accessible and affordable in Africa and South Asia. For the past few years, GALVmed has been working with a wide range of partners to create a suite of digital platforms designed to finally bridge the gaps between the animal health industry and the continent’s small-scale producers. The first of these – which is being developed in partnership with AgNexus Africa, Kruger Consulting, Pizzly Consult and Folio3 – is a Market Intelligence Platform. By aggregating reliable and up-to-date sales data from various sources in the animal health industry, the Market Intelligence Platform will give companies an unprecedented understanding of the size and nature of the animal health market across sub-Saharan Africa. In 2024, a minimum viable product will be developed to allow users to size and estimate the Kenyan market. This will help companies quantify demand, secure investments and reach underserved small-scale livestock producers. The platform will be expanded to include Tanzania, Ethiopia and Nigeria. To ensure the Market Intelligence Platform continues to provide accurate information for years to come, GALVmed is also helping to digitise the agrodealer industry. Since December 2023, AgNexus Africa and GALVmed have been equipping hundreds of agrodealers in Kenya and Tanzania with smart devices that log their sales. Not only is this improving the efficiency of the industry, but the logged sales data will be fed into the Market Intelligence Platform, providing businesses with a steady stream of real-time market data. Telehealth and e-commerce platform The second major innovation is the Telehealth and E-commerce Platform, which is designed to tackle the limited reach of animal health professionals in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, vets and paravets can only visit about five farms a day as they navigate remote villages, poor infrastructure and seasonal access roads. The Telehealth and E-commerce Platform is set to dramatically increase the number of cases these professionals can take on by enabling virtual consultations and clinical sign recognition. In partnership with VetNOW, the National Animal Disease Information Service and Africa Veterinary Technicians Association, a team of 10 vets has been enlisted to populate the platform with diagnostic information for an initial 55 priority diseases of cattle, sheep and goats. There are also plans for the platform to enable vets and paravets to give prescriptions, order products, submit cases for laboratory testing and even scan product barcodes to see if a particular animal health product is licensed to be traded. The Telehealth and E-commerce Platform will in future integrate with the Market Intelligence Platform, creating comprehensive market datasets for the poorly understood last mile of animal health value chains. In 2024, a minimum viable product offering telemedicine and clinical sign recognition – but without the e-commerce component – will be developed, covering Kenya’s Kiambu and Nakuru counties. This project is being implemented within Kenya’s veterinary medicine practice regulations. Unleashing the potential of livestock producers These platforms will be available via AgNexus Africa and VetNOW. The Market Intelligence Platform data will use a fee-based subscription model to ensure its long-term sustainability. The Telehealth and E-commerce Platform, meanwhile, will work on a demand aggregation model – similar to how taxi and food delivery apps work – with VetNOW in charge of the day-to-day operations. By ending the disconnect between the animal health sector and small-scale livestock producers, these platforms will help unleash the commercial and development potential of sub-Saharan Africa’s livestock. Cover image credit: @Shutterstock/Wazzkii