In a complete void of any animal health care in Ghana, Peter is developing a comprehensive national scale system for animal health and disease prevention. To do that, he is enabling livestock farmers by using a simple and easy to access mobile technology and a mobile based system of alerts, information and education.
He is enabling the production of healthier livestock by positioning livestock farmers on the ground with information in all possible aspects of animal health and early disease prevention.
The New Idea
Peter Awin is revolutionizing the animal health industry in Africa, starting from Ghana, by pioneering innovation that greatly reduces animal mortality and allows him deliver healthcare services to farmers anywhere and anytime. He is improving and sustaining livestock through the provision of primary animal health care services where the traditional extension system is inadequate. He is integrating trained veterinarians into disease identification, prevention and surveillance using technology, records keeping and animal tracking for effective animal health care service delivery.
Peter developed a framework that will change people’s mindset about animal healthcare delivery and engage all involved in the value chain to do differently. He started with public farmers education in community meetings and the novelty is he changed the way veterinarians are operating from their offices into active change agents travelling to the community, meeting with farmer groups and providing basic information about animal health, Peter found a way to offer the farmers affordable access to vaccination and medication by deploying warehouses for vaccines to the villages so that in case farmers need vaccines, the veterinarians can take the vaccines to hard to reach areas by motorcycles not needing to transport the equipment and medication from a long distance.
He also launched an easy to operate and understand mobile tech to provide information to farmers, distribute disease alerts for prevention and for vaccination. This technology allows farmers to track animal statistical spread of disease so that preventive vaccination can be immediately deployed to endangered areas.
Livestock production is a huge aspect of Ghana’s agricultural sector, a lot of rural households are supported by incomes from keeping livestock and it forms a part of their social security. Although the livestock serves as a huge source of generating revenue, the sector is greatly hampered by animal diseases which severely hinders livestock production. Livestock farmers lack information about livestock diseases and they do not have access to quality animal health care, making them lose a great deal of their livestock in addition to not making profit.
In order to solve the problem, the government of Ghana promoted private practices for animal health service delivery but this policy did not succeed as a result of the fact that the veterinarians were concentrated in the urban areas and not targeting rural farmers. The veterinarians that were physically accessible to the poor farmers were too expensive and hence unaffordable for farmers. Other problems that hindered lack of access are the fact that livestock farmers are mostly located in difficult to reach areas, farmers having poor attitude to animals as a result of their ignorance about livestock management, farmers prioritizing buying fertilizers and seeds for their farms rather than vaccinations for their animals, lack of drugs for the animals, and farmers treating the animals without adequate knowledge and skills on how to handle sick animals. There is also lack of information about bio-security as well as farmers sticking to traditional unsafe practices which further jeopardizes the health of their animals.
Peter has been determined to deploy the first comprehensive national system of animal health prevention and disease tracking. In order to create a data- and evidence-based system that can scale up to the national level, Peter spent 8 months on the field collecting farmers information by physically knocking on farmers doors and assembling information from them. He collected information from 30,000 farmers in the Northern part of Ghana about their location, age, family size, number of live-stock, economic base, which helped him profile the farmers and the larger community with their demography and needs. . With the 72 fields of information Peter collected ranging from acres of land to fertilizers and vaccines they have been given, Peter addressed veterinary issues and changed the way they operate through co-founding Cowtribe in 2016 alongside his partner.
Armed with comprehensive and solid data, Peter and his team has been able to build a national database with the government for an overview of farming resources in Ghana. Before Peter started his program, government never had information on Ghana’s livestock animals and farmers. To further create awareness about animal health and disease prevention Peter uses radio and other media to disseminate knowledge on animal care through radio talk shows and television programs.
Peter held several meetings with the veterinary doctors and enabled them to realize how working with his model to provide animal health service in the rural areas is a win win for both the farmers and veterinarians. The veterinary doctors instead of sitting in their offices to wait for farmers to come with their complains they now travel to remote and difficult-to-access areas for educational meetings and discussions with livestock farmers. They provide animal health education and information so that farmers understand the need for vaccinations and veterinary health services for their livestock. This creates a win-win solution: the farmers benefit from improved livestock health, while the veterinarians benefit from increased medication purchase . The veterinarian offices serve as aggregation centers where vaccines are dropped off and the village agents can order vaccines for their communities. The veterinary doctors then deliver the requested vaccines on their motorbikes to the communities and vaccinate at least 500 animals a day, in addition to providing veterinary services to the farmers for a reduced fee. The veterinary doctors now have more patronage as a result of increased demand. Through self-help groups Peter helps the farmers understand the need to vaccinate their animals and gives incentives to groups that order a large number of vaccines for their livestock.
To create an initial buy-in for the farmers to join this program, Peter came up with the idea of five-dollar (USD) lifetime memberships which allows the farmers to receive educational messages and alerts, order the vaccines and use as specific cowtribe debit card.
Peter designed a smartcard technology system that enables him reach out to the farmers three times in a month, he provides every registered farmer with a smart card that enables the farmers receive messages about the current issues happening in Ghana around animal health, they receive information about vaccines and the timeline for vaccine distribution to communities as well as information on animal husbandry, how to take care of their animals and biosecurity. He has signed a contract with Vodafone and provided the farmers free phones to enable them to interact with each other and share insights and best practices amongst themselves. There is consistent learning using mobile technology and individual needs are considered, the messages are sent in local languages for farmers who do not understand English language.
Additionally, seeing that farmers struggle with the decision whether to purchase seeds or vaccines, he started a bundling package where the farmers could purchase seeds and vaccines together for a lower cost.
In 2018, Peter is working across 3 districts in Ghana, 30,000 farmers and 116 veterinarians. To date, Peter has delivered 40,000 vaccines through his program., in 2019, he plans to expand to 7 more districts with the aim of covering the entire Ghana by 2020.
Peter grew up in the upper East region of Ghana, a northern region where most of the people kept livestock as a means of livelihood. Because of the infrequent rainy season , farmers must find ways to sustain themselves and their families. Peter’s family also kept animals because of the lean season when there were no crop growth. Peter’s love for animals grew since age five as he lived with his grandparents and cared or the animals they owned t. In high school, he president of the environment club. While in the University, Peter started a fast food business and used the proceeds to pay his school fees and meet his other needs. When the fast food business became really successful, other students began seeking employment in his business. He realized that students in general lacked entrepreneurial skills, so to help them Peter started Afrilead, an organization that helped students develop entrepreneurial skills. He trained the students in entrepreneurship and also organized fellowships for them.
Upon graduation, Peter interned with a project which involved alleviating poverty in rural areas by giving rural farmers animals for additional income. The project failed because the farmers lost 60% of the animals due to lack of awareness for animal healthcare. Peter resigned from the project because he could not develop a solution to the project at the time. Peter thought that he understood social entrepreneurship but wanted to understand how to use business ideas in solving social problems, he decided to join a company that provided insurance to rural farmers, while selling insurance to crop farmers, livestock farmers became interested and started requesting for insurance for their animals, he went back to his company requesting that insurance be provided for livestock farmers but the idea was rejected by the company because the mortality rate of livestock was very high he decided to solve this problem to enable the livestock farmers access insurance but as soon as he started he realized that he needed to effect systemic changes to healthcare services provided to livestock farmers.