By Paul Ndiho
October 18, 2011

In Africa, more than 70% of the population earns their livelihood through farming. Most of these are small scale farmers who may need help and solutions from the feed industry. U.S.-based Novus International is a global developer of animal health and nutrition programs, and is working in some African countries.
One of Novus International’s goals in Africa is to provide farmers with accessible feeding solutions for livestock such as poultry, cattle, and pigs. Thad Simons, President and CEO, says it’s critical that Novus empowers African farmers to build their feeding and animal care capacity.
“Certainly having a reference lab in Kenya will be very important for the whole development of the live stock industry. So we’ve actually worked with small scale farmers, changed some packaging sizes to address the needs of the small scale farmers; we’re also working, starting to work, with an organization in Kenya that’s going to set up small veterinary clinics across the country so we can start making sure that our products and technologies can reach the small scale farmers.”

Africa’s demand for food is expected to increase exponentially this century, and the continent may soon need twice the amount of food it produces today. Novus CEO Simons says the company attempts to gear its products towards the needs of the farmer.
“We have local companies that are representing us in the market but we want to have a technical person there, either a veterinarian or animal nutritionist that really can understand what the local farmers’ needs are, what are the local conditions, what are they actually experiencing in terms of access to raw materials, to grains, to what needs to go into the animals feeds and how we can help them to use our solutions and our technologies in the best ways that suits them.”
Bayella Thiam, Africa director at Novus, says high-quality research can help turn subsistence farming into income-generating enterprises.
“I think one of the key points is that we cannot deal with agribusiness or livestock without thinking about the small scale farmers. So our solution today is built for commercial guys around the world. In Africa, the large part is small scale farmers. That means we need to think about the packaging the message in small size.”
Thiam also says that there is a need to write the brochures in their local language so that farmers can understand what they need to know.
Analysts say improving small scale agriculture is fundamental to the economic growth of emerging markets, and access to affordable livestock inputs and technologies is essential.

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