Livestock development specialist Dr Robyn Alders, who has made significant contribution to ACIAR’s work on controlling Newcastle disease in Africa and Asia, was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2011 Australia Day Honours List.
Dr Alders received the award for her distinguished service to veterinary science as a researcher and educator, as well as her contribution to food security in developing countries through livestock management and disease control programs, and also to the Australian poultry industry.
Dr Alders was employed on ACIAR research grants at the University of Queensland John Francis Virology Laboratory and later stationed in Mozambique working on the use of thermotolerant Newcastle disease vaccine in village chicken flocks. ACIAR continues to support the University to provide developing countries with ‘master seed’ for the vaccine.
“Newcastle Disease is a really important disease of poultry,” Dr Alders said. “Small farmers in developing countries generally have about six birds that can get wiped out annually by the disease, if we can stop that cycle by vaccination then the bird numbers increase and the farmers have a better way of life,” she said.
“This happens because they have increased options, they can sell five roosters and buy a goat and sell three goats and buy a cow, they can send the kids to school or buy clothes or pay medical bills. “That’s how it works. It gives people a chance to plan rather than just be reactive,” Robyn said.
Robyn is now based in Boston in the International Veterinary Medicine Section of the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also a village poultry specialist with the International Rural Poultry Centre of the KYEEMA Foundation, a non‐profit organisation based in Brisbane.
The Foundation continues to development projects in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia that use village poultry improvement as a tool to support poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, HIV/AIDS mitigation and wildlife conservation.
She co-authored several ACIAR publications, the latest Improving village chicken production: a manual for field workers and trainers, along with field, training and lab manuals on controlling Newcastle Disease in village chickens.
Village chicken manual kicks MDGs: http://aciar.gov.au/node/11231
Link to interview with Robyn Alders on ABC Rural “Village chickens and food security”: http://www.abc.net.au/rural/content/2011/s3148600….