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Africa moves to conserve animal genetic resources

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Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | For the recent decades, Africa’s indigenous animals such as the East Africa’s sinewy Ankole cattle; a product of the centuries of selection for traits adapted to harsh conditions, have been threatened with the imported bred animals triggering panic in the livestock keeping communities that the indigenous materials may at one point become unavailable for utilization for the future generation.

But the good news is that the genes of these indigenous animals will now be kept in various gene banks across the continent.

Uganda through the National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Data Bank (NAGRIC & DB) Entebbe, will conserve and store animal genetic resources on behalf of 12 countries in the East African region.

These include; Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan.

Dr. Charles Lagu, the executive director at NAGRIC & DB who also doubles as the focal person for the regional facility, said the gene bank will help rescue animal genetic resources that are currently threatened or facing extinction.

“We want to have these gene banks such that in case something happens, we can recreate these animals, develop new ones or carryout further research. This is to ensure that these good indigenous breeds are not lost,” he said.

This comes more than a decade since the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other research groups released a report titled “The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources” showing that nearly 70 per cent of the entire world’s remaining unique livestock breeds are found in developing countries, and that there was need to establish gene banks in Africa to store her semen and embryo due to their rich genetic diversity.

This prompted the African Union through its technical office, African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) with the support of European Union, to set up the regional gene banks to act as seed haven for various genetic material drawn from of indigenous breeds that continue to contribute to the social fabric of the African people and tell the historical origin and background of the local population.

Currently, only a few developed countries including the US, China, India, some in Europe and South America have well–established gene banks for their animal diversity.

Dr Mary Mbole-Kariuki, the Genetics Project’s Data Management expert at AU-IBAR, said the new development comes at the time the Ankole cattle that is raised across East and Central Africa was being replaced by black and white Friesian cows and that they will disappear in the next few years.

“Definitely, (it will be) a very big disaster for the East African region,” she said. “Yet, it is evident that drought and disease tolerant attributes are very important to the livestock keepers in the future given the eminent climate change.”

She said the regional gene banks will also serve as centres of excellence with regards to training on use of modern cryopreservation technologies by member states.

“Member states will have full access to their materials and exchange between them is encouraged to diversify their diversity,” she said.

Josefa Sacko, the commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union, said they are optimistic that the regional members will take advantage of the facility and utilise it as a back-up gene bank or more pyrogenic storage for their genetic materials.

“As AU, we have proposed mechanisms in the management and administration of regional these regional gene banks across the continent,” she said.

“These mechanism include; the standard operating procedures for collection, processing, storage and transmission of genetic materials as well as accompanying material transfer agreements.”

She said the onus is now on the stakeholders in the Eastern Africa to put in place measures they consider appropriate for the management and operation of the regional banks whose sustainability will also depend on your commitment both financial and technical.

She said Uganda also need to carry out a cost estimate on how to run the facility so that it is shared among the member states for sustainability.

In addition, a separate animal gene bank that will serve the needs of a backup to provide security against accidental loss will be under the Mandate of the African Union Commission and will be established at the African Union Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre (AU-PANVAC).

AUPANVAC will serve as the Laboratory for the African Union Commission and will hold samples of each region, thus providing for an African ownership and security against accidental loss.

Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, said the government greatly supports the initiative and that it will ensure that it succeeds for the betterment of the regional community.

Other regional gene banks have been established in Burkina Faso to serve the West African region; Botswana to serve the Southern region, Tunisia to serve the North African region and Cameroun to serve the central African region.

Original Post: The Independent 

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Uganda’s coffee industry eyes new markets, value addition

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But the country still has a lot of coffee that is still being dried on the ground

Kampala, Uganda  Uganda’s coffee industry will seek new international market for their products to reduce over concentration on traditional buyers to boost farmer’s income.

Coffee is the country’s second biggest source of foreign exchange after tourism and provides a living for around 8 million people or about 19% of the population.

“In 2017, stakeholders in the coffee industry discussed the coffee road map on how to accelerate production but also increase income to the farmers,” said Emmanuel Niyibigira, managing director of the regulator, Uganda Coffee Development Authority.

“They were concerned that we need to have value addition for our coffee but also have the demand. We are looking at some markets such as China which has 1.4billion people and it is an emerging market. We are also looking at Middle East, Maghreb region, Eastern Europe though now we have this conflict (between Russia and Urkaine) and also the Balkan states.”

Uganda exports most of its coffee to Italy, Germany, Algeria, India and Sudan.

Niyibigira, who was speaking during the Agribusiness Mkutano 2022 at Mestil Hotel in Kampala on April.28, said the regulator is looking forward to supporting   local coffee businesses for value addition including soluble coffee processing plants.

He said the government aims to ensure that the country has at least two soluble coffee plants in the next five years. He said UCDA and the Uganda Development Corporation, a government investment arm, are carrying out a feasibility study to ascertain its viability.

The country has 38 registered coffee roasters although the government’s plan to have a soluble coffee plant has been on the table since 1994.

“We are also looking at branding our coffee. Most of our coffee is being exported and blended with other coffees due to its good aroma. We need to be recognized as an origin of Ugandan coffee,” Niyibigira said, adding that it is unacceptable that countries including  India, Vietnam and others in Latin America, which also produce huge volumes of coffee, import Ugandan coffee beans especially Robusta  only to blend with their coffees to boost  aroma and  fetch premium prices on the international market.

Niyibigira, however, noted that the industry still faces some challenges.

“We still have a lot of coffee that is still being dried on the ground,” he said, adding that low bean sizes, low productivity as well as pests and diseases are being addressed with new coffee varieties.

Tony Mugoya, the executive director at the Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance said as the country pursues value addition in the coffee industry, farmers should be able to sale their products to the highest bidder.

“Uganda is a free market economy and us as farmers, we shall give our coffee to anyone who offers the highest price. That is all we want,” he said. “So the more the people or companies in the market, the more competition and the better for us.”

The government has in past weeks faced opposition over its move to exclusively grant Enrica Pinetti-owned Uganda Vinci Coffee Company to purchase and export the country’s coffee.

Mugoya said as the country embrace value addition, they should be aware of the existing tariff and non-tariff barriers in the international market.

Joseph Nkandu, the executive director of the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (Nucafe) said value addition in coffee need to be in the entire value chain.

“Farmers need to own the value addition component beyond the farm level as it enhances their income,” he said.

Nkandu said countries such as Uganda striving to embrace value addition need to enter into partnerships in targeted markets so that the product is easily accepted.

Martha Wandera, managing director at Kimco Coffee Ltd said the government should probably consider setting up a production plant for production of packaging materials for processed coffee to lower coffee prices  stimulate local demand.

She said also suggests that the costs of accessing quality mark be reduced to encourage coffee producers to access the services.

Uganda’s coffee export volumes and earnings has consistently grown over the past 20 years and accounts for 7% of the world’s production.

Last year, farmers exported 6.49million 60 kg bags of coffee worth US$629.8million compared to 5.36million 60kg bags in the 2019/2020 season worth US$512.22million in the previous year.

Source: The Independent 

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Uganda losing agricultural advantage to neighbours – UN.

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Although women are mostly involved in agricultural production, when it comes to marketing of produce, it is the men who dominate the decision-making.

What you need to know:

  • Speaking during the Agribusiness Mkutano (conference) in Kampala, Dr Dmitry Pozhidaev, the United Nations Capital Development Fund country and regional head, said before the 2000s, Uganda was ahead of all East African member states in terms of agriculture productivity, but Rwanda and Kenya have since become superior.

Uganda is losing its agricultural productivity advantage to neighboring countries due to lack of sufficient development in the sector, according to the United Nations Capital Development Fund.
Speaking during the Agribusiness Mkutano (conference) in Kampala, Dr Dmitry Pozhidaev, the United Nations Capital Development Fund country and regional head, said before the 2000s, Uganda was ahead of all East African member states in terms of agriculture productivity, but Rwanda and Kenya have since become superior.

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“Uganda has lost the agricultural productivity advantage [it held] over Rwanda in the early 2000s. It now lags behind Kenya and is much more behind South Africa,” he said, noting that because of low productivity, a number of people have moved to other sectors of economy yet they have low absorption capacity thus exacerbating unemployment.

Dr Pozhidaev also noted that since the 2000s, productivity in the services sector has doubled while that of manufacturing continues to fluctuate.
Under the National Development Plan II, government had sought to realise a 2.2 percent annual increase in agricultural productivity and increase in labour productivity by 40 percent.
However, this has not been achieved, thus frustrating the fight against unemployment in a country where 600,000 youth annually enter the job market.
Therefore, Dr Pozhidaev said, there is need to develop targeted policies, knowledge sharing, skill development and financing of improved agricultural productivity is to be achieved.

The Agribusiness Mkutano under the theme: Uganda@60: Fulfiling the agro-industrialisation agenda for Uganda seeks to reconginse the entire value addition chains as an important player in the fight against unemployment and industrialisation.
Ms Mona Muguma Ssebuliba, the aBi chief executive officer, said there is need to ensure that farmers access credit and grant to improve productivity.
For instance, she noted, aBi was playing a key role in supporting agribusinesses actors in coffee, dairy, cereals, horticulture, oil seeds and poultry value chain to increase their capacity to produce large quantities and quality commodities as well as supporting them with a number of processes to sufficiently supply both the local and international markets.

In the coffee value chain alone, Ms Ssebuliba said, aBi has in the last three years invested Shs17.7b to promote agro-industrialisation with specific interventions seeking to support establishment of coffee hurlers, coffee washing stations and capacity building to access international and niche markets.

Original Source: Monitor

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Tsetse flies invade Kiruhura district

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Tsetse flies spread nagana in livestock.

Kiruhura, Uganda. Kiruhura district has been invaded by tsetse flies with the residents calling for government support to eradicate the pests that have seen several cattle in the area die.

Nyabushozi County Member of Parliament, Wilson Kajwengye raised the matter of national importance during a plenary sitting on Tuesday, 03 May 2022 chaired by Speaker Anita Among.

Kajwengye said that for the past five years, cattle farmers in Kiruhura have borne the burden of fighting tsetse flies, whose cost he said was exorbitant and discouraging to commercial cattle farmers.

“Unfortunately, we have lost the battle because the disease is chronic and cows lose weight. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has intervened but minimally,” said Kajwengye.

He said that an estimated 100,000 herds of cattle have been affected by the diseases caused by the flies.

Kajwengye said Kiruhura has registered notable financial loss resulting from the decline in milk and beef production.

“It is estimated that the district has lost Shs26 billion and Shs15 billion from sales of milk and beef respectively,” he said.

He prayed that the Ministry of Agriculture should urgently procure and distribute tsetse fly traps saying they are easy to use and are environmentally friendly.

Kajwengye also asked government to urgently provide equipment and other necessary laboratory consumables to Kiruhura district veterinary laboratory, which he said would help improve surveillance.

He also appealed to the ministry to work with the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Antiquities to carryout studies on tsetse fly control measures that would include development of an appropriate acaricide that kills tsetse flies.

Speaker Among said she received similar reports from residents during her recent visit to Kiruhura and asked the Agriculture Ministry to urgently assess the disease burden in the district.

“I think what you need to do is to send a team there to assess the level of the damage that has been caused,” she said.

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