Emerging economies are of vital importance to global sustainability and food security, and to the expansion of Novus’s business and its ability to achieve its vision of helping to feed the world affordable, wholesome food and achieve a higher quality of life. Emerging economies in Asia and Latin America have unique and special needs. The pace of population growth; changing eating habits resulting from new levels of disposable income and demographics; the increasing urbanization of the populations; inadequately developed quality, safety and analytical processes; use of specifically local raw materials and cost-efficiency issues combined with competitive needs of world markets, require special, dedicated support and close collaboration. Novus has demonstrated its commitment to supporting emerging economies in China, India, Brazil and Africa through its local manufacturing presence and service, coupled with tireless efforts to support customers through awareness, education and tailored farm-to-table science-based solutions which enable adoption of sustainable agriculture practices with local relevance, productivity development and community empowerment.
Protecting Camels as a Source of Safe, Nutritious Food
Using camels as a source of low-cost, nutritious food is as old as time itself. Camel's milk is considered to be a whole food, providing a rich source of proteins and nutrients that can sustain humans for long periods of time. For example, camel milk is three times higher in vitamin C than cow's milk and 10 times higher in iron, and is rich in potassium and minerals such as sodium and magnesium. Rearing camels is an efficient enterprise, as camels consume wild desert plants and bushes that costintensive livestock, such as cows or swine, do not eat. Camels thrive in dry, arid climates in which other livestock cannot. The advanced physiology of a camel allows it to go one month without water and continue to produce milk
on the poorest of diets. Bedouin, nomad and pastoral cultures realized all this thousands of years ago and have enjoyed the benefits of camels as a source of sustenance when no viable, alternative food sources were available, in addition to using multi-purpose camels as a practical mode of transportation and conveyance. For traditional pastoralists, camels play multiple socio-economic roles with milk production being most important.
However, camels as food also can bring risks; diseases which affect their health, well-being and longevity also may impact humans. These include bacterial and viral diseases, such as pneumonia, anthrax and salmonellosis diseases, as well as other, more specific maladies such as Rift Valley Fever. Protecting camels against disease is vital to secure the sustainable benefits of camels as a source of food supply in Africa and other emerging economies. Camel milk and meat have only recently begun to enter formal marketing systems and their economic importance has been underestimated. Few practical studies have been completed to research how to improve camel husbandry, health and market sustainability. Understanding which diseases are present in the camel population is a first step in mitigating impacts that these diseases may have on human health and other livestock species.
In 2011, as part of Novus's commitment to supporting global food security, Novus partnered with a veterinary epidemiologist at the St Louis Zoo, Dr. Sharon Deem, supplying funding for an investigation of disease prevalence in a baseline survey of commercial dairy camel herds in Kenya in collaboration with local veterinary authorities. Dr. Deem visited local dairy camel herds and obtained blood and fecal samples, along with milk samples, to investigate diseases in the population. In this research program, incidence and types of diseases present in dairy camels were identified and knowledge of potential disease transmission through the camel into humans or other livestock were determined as a basis for developing appropriate food safety and animal management practices.
Partnering with local experts in this project (both in St. Louis as well as in Kenya) was essential in advancing this high-potential opportunity to improve food security in Kenya and other African countries. Novus is currently working on additional studies and solutions for implementation in coming years.
"Through a collaborative effort and funds generously provided by Novus, we were able to initiate a health assessment of dairy camels in Kenya. This pilot study provided prevalence data for two zoonotic pathogens, Coxiella burnetii and Brucella sp., that may be transmitted from camels to people via the consumption of milk and meat products if these food items are not properly prepared."
Dr. Sharon Deem
Director of Institute for Conservation Medicine, St. Louis Zoo
Dr. Deem gathering samples from camels in Kenya, 2011.
Creating Capabilities for Sustainable Agriculture in Kenya
In 2010, we reported that Novus had developed a uniquely innovative program in partnership with Egerton University located near Nakuru, Kenya. Egerton offers a wide range of Bachelor of Science degrees in agriculture and related disciplines. The partnership, initially conceived by Bayella Thiam, Novus's Executive Manager in Africa and Dr. Abdi Yakub Guliye of the Department of Animal Sciences at Egerton University, provides for Novus's assistance in developing a business plan for Egerton University to generate revenue by offering new analytical services for the agriculture sector where the lack of robust data relating to feed content inhibits optimum agricultural outputs. Through this multi-year collaboration, in which Novus committed to invest cash for new laboratory facilities, train local professionals and provide know-how and guidance, Novus demonstrated not only its creative and innovative approach to development of emerging economy solutions, but also
provided a platform for empowering the local community to support sustainable agriculture.
During 2011, the partnership has progressed as planned and the Egerton Laboratory will be in a position to deliver its first commercial offerings to support local agriculture during 2012. Throughout 2011, intensive collaboration was maintained with a four-month visit of two Egerton University staff for hands-on training at Novus's Missouri Research Laboratories, weekly conference calls between the Egerton team and the Novus global teams, ongoing contact with Novus's local staff in Africa and the remodeling of the laboratory, including the import of specialized equipment not available locally. This laboratory remodeling included repainting, refitting of drains and waste management and replacement of benches and other furniture. In this project alone, Novus is committed to an overall investment of over $150,000 in equipment, which would not have been possible via university funding alone. The expectation is that analytical services offered by the laboratory will offset the cost of the equipment during the coming years.
On a more personal level, the Egerton collaboration has made a difference in the lives of the two laboratory analysts who will lead the work at the new laboratory, providing them with new skills and new meaning to their work.
Solving Feed Pollution Problems in China
In mid-2011, major floods poured down on central and southern China, affecting millions of people and disrupting thousands of businesses, including many food-producing businesses. Over 630,000 acres of agricultural land were submerged, destroying crops and farming livelihoods. At this time, a major customer of Novus, a comprehensive, high-tech agricultural enterprise selling animal feed and crop seed, was suffering from a high rate of raw materials polluted with multiple mycotoxins — just one of the negative effects of the prolonged flooding. This was causing concern that polluted animal feed may cause animal discomfort, reduce animal fertility and lead to productivity losses.
Novus prepared a professional training event for the customer, focusing on mycotoxin analytics including sampling, analytical methods, identifying pollution levels of raw materials and suggesting a solution. Within three months of working with the Novus program, farm fertility and productivity was restored.
Reducing Feed Costs for Swine
In 2011, one of China's largest swine feed producers identified a problem relating to feed production efficiency caused by low moisture levels of feed produced. This was of concern as low moisture levels affect the palatability of feed due to the hardness of the feed pellets and also increase the total cost of feed as pellet production is inefficient. Achieving the correct moisture level is critical to maintaining swine health and a cost-effective feed manufacturing operation.
After discussing the customer's problem, Novus proposed a tailored solution. This incorporated a feed ingredient with an emulsifying effect that increases pellet output and optimizes the moisture levels in the feed, generating an additional 7 kg of feed with 70% moisture retention. The customer adopted this solution and was able to realize significant cost efficiencies while improving the overall quality of the feed product.