June is National Dairy Month in the United States, celebrated since 1937 to honor the advances that made dairy consumption possible for households around the country. Yet, many small-scale farmers in the developing world lack access to the technology that makes the dairy industry possible here. Today, we’re highlighting Global Good’s Manan Shukla, who recently sat down with the African publication Rural Reporters, to talk about how invention can address some of the challenges these men and women face.
Manan spoke with Rural Reporters about the AI Shield, artificial insemination technology to help both dairy and cattle farmers meet herd management and breeding challenges. Global Good recently signed a manufacturing and distribution agreement with Worthington Industries to sell the AI Shield in East Africa, an area of focus for Intellectual Ventures.
Read on for Manan’s interview on the AI Shield:
Why is AI Shield essential for dairy farmers?
In 2014, our collaborator, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, identified that the growth of artificial insemination (AI) in the developing world has been hampered by low conception rates. Global Good (GG) embarked on innovating technologies that could improve AI outcomes.
When semen is accessed from a container, it is easy to inadvertently cause thermal fluctuations causing harmful and cumulative semen damage that leads to lower conception rates. Damage happens fast, with 100% sperm death after one minute.
One study estimates that poor handling in the United States accounts for a 9% decrease in semen fertility. The problem is worse in the developing world—primarily because training is less rigorous—leading to devastating consequences for farmers and artificial insemination programs alike.
The AI Shield is a simple, proprietary cold chain solution that protects frozen bull semen from adverse temperature fluctuations, resulting in an increased likelihood of AI conception success.
How will AI Shield be distributed to farmers? More significantly, how can rural farmers access AI Shield?
AI Shield is a solution that is part of the containers that AI technicians use when visiting a farm to inseminate cattle. The containers, filled with liquid nitrogen, are used to keep the semen cold. The farmer benefits from the increased possibility of conception.
As I mentioned, the AI Shield will be bought primarily by AI technicians whose job is to deliver inseminations to the farm. Farmers will benefit from technicians who are using the AI Shield with improved conception rates. For AI technicians, we are in the process of establishing a hub that will enable technicians to order the AI Shield.
Aside from adding value to market growth, of what importance will it be to personal economic development?
The AI Shield has the potential to improve conception rates and reduce liquid nitrogen losses. For technicians, this translates to improved incomes. For farmers, successful AI will increase the income potential from higher milk production.
For the rest of Manan’s interview, check out the Rural Reporters’ website and read his recent Behind the Breakthrough profile on this blog. Stay tuned to our Insights newsletter for upcoming news about AI Shield and more of Global Good’s efforts.