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300 cows in Isingiro go blind over fake chemicals

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Efforts. One of the blind cows at a farm in Isingiro District. PHOTO BY FELIX AINEBYOONA 

By FELIX AINEBYOONA

Government is investigating reports that dairy farmers in Isingiro District are using unlicensed acaricides and concoctions that are causing blindness and other complications to livestock.
The district veterinary officer, Dr Bruhan Kasozi, told Daily Monitor yesterday that they are working with the National Drug Authority (NDA) to ascertain whether the blindness of more than 300 cows is being caused by the said acaricides and chemicals. “We are still investigating together with NDA to find out if it is true that these animals are getting blind because of acaricides that are not licensed,” Dr Kasozi said.
The call for investigations was prompted by the Isingiro District chairperson, Mr Jeremiah Kamurari, who appealed to the ministry of Agriculture to come to the aid of dairy farmers in the area.
He was speaking at a meeting of dairy farmers and veterinary drug shop operators in Kabingo Town Council last Thursday.
Mr Kamurari said a report from the district veterinary department shows there are more than 300 cases of cow blindness and 14 deaths.
“Fake acaricides are being supplied through normal channels where farmers have been getting drugs; our cows are experiencing unbelievable challenge of blindness,” he said.
He added that the acaricides are concoctions of different pesticides and other things such as tobacco which have adverse effects on the animals.

Appeal
“We are wondering what the NDA (National Drug Authority) is doing. They are sensitising the public which is good but let them do enforcement. Let us have arrests of these fraudsters, name and shame and follow up cases to the letter. This will cure the problem,” Mr Kamurari said.
The principal regulatory officer at NDA, Mr Vincent Kayizi Magembe, said most of the fumigants are dangerous chemicals which are meant for hard surfaces not the skin and they can cause cancer to humans if exposed to skin.
“Farmers are continuously using fumigants which are extremely dangerous because they are meant for hard surfaces and fumigation of insects such as cockroaches, rice and bed bags. So they can even cause cancer to humans and it is even indicated on the bottles,” Dr Kayizi said.

Farmers’ last resort
The chairperson of Kakamba Dairy Cooperative Society, Mr Benon Rugaju Mutakirwa, said some farmers resorted to using different forms of acaricides and fumigants due to tick resistance.
“Since we started using fumigants such as lava, 2 In 1 Ocelamectin and others, our cows started getting blind. A top layer of the cow’s eyes is covered by something like a cloud,” Mr Mutakirwa said.
The head of veterinary at NDA, Dr Jeanne Muhindo, faulted the “big people’’ for not supervising workers at their farms, leading to the use of the acaricides.
“Most of the affected farms are of big people who are usually absentees on their farms. We interacted with their managers and they revealed that they have sometimes been forced to use these chemicals because they are expected to have zero ticks on the farms. So they stealthily do it, their bosses don’t know about it,” she said.

BACKGROUND
Last month, NDA and police arrested seven people on allegations of falsifying and selling unregistered Tick Burn Spray to dairy farmers in western region. They were allegedly buying DD Force, Boom Super, and 2 –in-1 Ocelamectin, which are fumigants/pesticides, and labelling them ‘tick burn spray’ and selling to livestock farmers.

Source: Daily Monitor

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Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

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Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.

Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,”  he said.

Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.

Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”

Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.

While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.

Original source: Monitor

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Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

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About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.

The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.

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Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda

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Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.

The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.

An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.

The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.

He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border.  The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.

Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.

He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Original Source: URN via The independent

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