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Farmers count losses as drought hits north



Mr Alex Ogwang, a farmer in Alito Sub-county, Kole District, shows his soybean garden that was scorched by the dry spell on August 6.

Thousands of farmers in northern Uganda have witnessed low yields during the first planting season because of a prolonged dry spell that has hit the region this year.
A mini-survey conducted by Daily Monitor reveals that majority of the farmers that planted groundnuts, beans, maize and soybean made  huge losses, with a few able to get excess produce for sale.

The survey indicates that most crops planted in the first planting season withered in the gardens due to the dry spell that lasted almost three months from April.
In Kole, for instance, farmers under their umbrella body – Alito Joint Christian Farmers’ Cooperative Society (AJCFCS) – made a loss of Shs4.8 billion due to low yields.

AJCFCS has 14,815 members scattered across nine districts that make up the Lango Sub-region. Other members are in Omoro, Nwoya, Amuru, Pader and Agago districts in Acholi Sub-region, as well as Abim District in Karamoja Sub-region.
The group specialises in growing quality declared seed varieties of soybean from Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute, Kabanyolo. The varieties of the soya range from Mak Soy 1N – 5N.
However, unaware of the looming weather changes, the group procured 50 tonnes of soybean seeds and distributed them to their members.

The beneficiary members received the 50 tonnes on loan and they were expected to pay back after harvest.
The seeds were planted on an estimated 200,000 acres of land, and each acre was expected to raise at least 1,200kgs or 12 bags of soybean,
But due to the prolonged dry spell experienced across the region between May and July, there was total crop failure.
Mr John Christopher Okwang, the AJCFCS chairperson, said: “Most crops dried up in the gardens and only a few fortunate farmers who have their gardens near wetlands were able to get about 400 – 600kgs per acre.”

Going by the current soybean rice of Shs3,000 per kilo, Mr Okwang said  of the 200,000 acres of soya beans planted, they were expecting to harvest 24,000 tonnes, which would earn them Shs7.2 billion.
“But because of the drought, we suffered a big loss of up to Shs4.8 billion this farming season and we are expecting to get only Shs2.4 billion instead of the Shs7.2 billion we had projected at the time when we were distributing seeds to our members,” Mr Okwang said.  He said because of the crop failure, many group members are unable to pay back the seeds they obtained on loan.

Mr Lino Obaro, a member of AJCFCS, said he got soybean seeds worth Shs250,000 on loan. He planted the seeds in his two-acre garden but harvested nothing as the crop withered away.
“I got another loan of Shs500,000 from a Sacco group for growing soybean, beans and maize but they have all failed and I don’t know how I am going to pay back the loan,” Mr Obaro said.

The 70-year-old, who has been a smallholder farmer for 50 years, said he had never witnessed a total crop failure like the one which happened this year because of the prolonged dry spell.
Mr Raphael Odyeny, another member of Alito farmers group, said he planted soybean in his two-acre garden twice this year. But when it was about to start flowering, the dry spell set in.

Mr Odyeny also said he got the seeds worth Shs250,000 on loan.
“I planted the first crop at the beginning of April, but in May when it was flowering and about to start producing the pods, the crops dried up and I dug them down and started planting them afresh. Again, in June when it was about to start flowering the same thing, happened and now I have given up,” Mr Odyeny said.
The Covid-19 pandemic with the associated lockdown has also exacerbated the food insecurity problem in northern Uganda.

In 2019, Lira-based Ngetta Zonal Agricultural Research Development Institute estimated that four million people in the north lived under threat of hunger mainly brought about by the effects of climate change.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns that Uganda could lose Shs260 billion to rising temperatures by 2050 due to climate change.

What farmers say
Bonny Ocen,  farmer from Lira: “This is a very hard moment for us farmers. I planted soybean, maize and simsim in April, but the prolonged dry spell came and destroyed everything.”

Tonny Ocen, farmer from Lira: “I invested about Shs400,000 in farming during the first planting season while expecting a big harvest. Unfortunately, all crops were scorched by the sun.”

Ronald Otung, farmer: “I planted soybean in a big garden expecting to get a minimum of 10 bags but I ended up with only four basins, yet I spent Shs370,000 on buying seeds, hiring the garden, and labour.

Original Source: Daily


Govt to import 10 million vaccines to control cattle disease



Entebbe, Uganda.  Government is set to import 10 million doses of vaccines to enable scaling up of ring vaccination as the fight to eradicate Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Ugandan cattle enters a new phase.

Cabinet chaired by President Yoweri Museveni on Monday also proposed that once ring vaccination is complete, farmers start paying for the FMD vaccines in a compulsory vaccination scheme, and thereafter, trade in animal products, will be restricted to those adhering to the plan.

Minister of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fishers Frank Tumwebazwe on Monday shared the resolutions after Cabinet laid out strategies to contain the disease that has hit 36 districts.

Cabinet agreed to create a revolving fund to enable procurement of sufficient FMD vaccines to facilitate compulsory bi-annual vaccination of the susceptible domestic animal population. It also approved a plan for farmers to pay for the vaccines while government covers other costs.

“Vaccination is to be made compulsory. Proof of vaccination will be a precondition for any farmer to sell any animal products,” said Minister Tumwebazwe.

“I appeal to fellow livestock farmers and stakeholders to understand and appreciate these effort as we steadily move to eradicate FMD in Uganda just like other animal diesases like rinderpest wre eradicated.”

Ntoroko veterinary disease surveillance team conducting FMD surveillance and sample collection

The 36 districts currently affected and under quarantine are Budaka, Bukedea, Bukomansimbi, Bunyangabu, Butaleja, Fortportal City, Gomba, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kasanda, Kayunga, Kazo, Kiboga, Kibuku, Kiruhura, Kumi, Kyankwanzi, Kyegegwa, Kyotera, Luuka, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Mbarara City, Mityana, Mpigi, Mubende, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Namisindwa, Ngora, Ntungamo, Rakai, Rwampara and Sembabule.

All districts neighboring the affected districts are at high risk, under strict surveillance, and the authorities have been advised to remain vigilant.

These include Apac, Amolatar, Bugiri, Bushenyi, Butaleja, Hoima, Iganga, Jinja, Kabale, Kaberamaido, Kaliro, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Katakwi, Kasese, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kyenjojo, Mbale, Masindi, Mayuge, Mukono, Namalemba, Nakapiripirit,
Palisa, Rukungiri, Sironko, Wakiso and Soroti.

Tumwebaze assured farmers that in the next one or two months, his Ministry expects to receive and dispatch 2.3 million doses of the FMD vaccine to the affected and susceptible districts for ring vaccination scale-up.

He told parliament earlier that as a way of increasing availability of Foot and Mouth Disease vaccines in the country,
Uganda’s National Agiculture Research Organisation (NARO) has started the process of formulating and developing an FMD vaccine for Uganda.

Source: The independent

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Farmers losing Shs4 trillion due to livestock diseases



ScienceDirect has revealed that farmers in Uganda lose more than $1.1b (Shs4.1 trillion) in aggregated annual direct and indirect loss due to the rising spread of tick-borne animal challenges, with the commonest and economically damaging tick-borne disease being the East Coast Fever.

The livestock industry in Uganda and its productivity continue to be threatened by a number of diseases many of which are tick-borne related.

This, Dr Anna Rose Ademun, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioner animal health, said results from arcaricides that have become resistant, thus the need to ensure collaboration and get solutions to the problem.

“There are ongoing efforts by the Agriculture Ministry, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation to support diagnosis of tick resistance to acaricides at regional laboratory centres but this is not enough,” she said during the livestock industry key stakeholders meeting in Kampala, which had been convened to discuss and prioritise areas for tick control.

The stakeholders included veterinarians, extension staff, farmers, processors and government representatives.

Ministry of Agriculture is already working on the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative, which seeks to, among others, provide sustainable solutions to enable small-scale farmers maximise the potential of their cattle by developing and practicing methods that can successfully manage tick infections in cattle.

During the meeting, the TickAcademy App, which will support farmers in managing tick infestations was also pre-launched.

By the end of January, farmers and extension workers will be able to access the app’s educational content, which includes simple-to-watch films, to help them become knowledgeable about tick control.

Mr Enrique Hernández Pando, the GALVmed head of commercial development and impact, said the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative will be important in tackling acaricide resistance challenges as well as help farmers and animal health officers to access creative methods of addressing the problem of acaricide resistance.

During the meeting, stakeholders jointly agree to train and sensitise field staff and farmers about tick management strategies that work, as well as strengthen the diagnostic infrastructure and testing capabilities for tick resistance and other animal health-related concerns.

Others will involve making it easier for farmers to obtain credit from savings institutions run by farmer groups at a reasonable cost so they may purchase specialized equipment for applying pesticides.

Mr Nishal Gunpath, the Elanco Animal Health country director south and sub-Saharan Africa, said they will support the Initiative to drive livestock in a better direction, noting that it will also help small-scale livestock farmers to maximise their potential.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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Ibanda imposes livestock quarantine to curb anthrax



Ibanda, Uganda.  Authorities in Ibanda district have enforced a quarantine on the movement of cattle and, the sale of animal products following an outbreak of anthrax.

According to the Ibanda District Chief Administrative Officer Ruhemba Kweronda, the district has registered sporadic cases of anthrax disease in Humans who are suspected to have handled meat from infected dead animals.

Kweronda says the disease that was first noticed in November last year was reported in Rugaaga 1 and IV villages of Keihangara Sub County, where nine people who confessed to having slaughtered a dead animal tested positive for Anthrax.

He adds that early this month one person from Mbonwa Parish Rukiri Sub County tested positive and currently 12 people from Kakoma are showing signs. He also said that two animals died abruptly in Kigarama ward Ibanda Municipality and samples have been collected and taken to the laboratory.

According to Kweronda, all slaughter activities and movement of livestock will be temporarily enforced for one month in Ibanda Municipality and Ibanda South Constituency.

He says other measures put in place to curb the spread of the disease include registering all meat handlers in the district, enforcing the requirement by all cattle traders to have cattle trading licenses issued by the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, carrying out ring vaccination of all suspected animal species in areas of Keihangara sub county Bisheshe Division, Rukiri Sub County and Kagongo division, but also continue sensitization and surveillance activities.

Dr Hillary Arinaitwe, the District Veterinary Officer says that they have written to the Ministry of Agriculture demanding vaccines.

In December, authorities in Kyotera district enforced a complete ban on the movement of livestock and its products to halt the spread of Anthrax.

For nearly a month, the district has grappled with a rare outbreak of Anthrax. This outbreak has claimed at least six lives and led to several hospitalizations.

Anthrax is a zoonotic caused by Bacillus anthracis, a spore-like bacteria that produces strong toxins that are dangerous to animals and humans. Ruminants such as cows, goats, and sheep can quickly die with their carcasses showing little signs of infection but in human beings, symptoms begin with a flu-like illness, raised boil-like lesions on the skin.

Meanwhile, officials in Kiruhura District have extended the closure of four animal markets to control the spread of foot and mouth disease in the district.

The four markets are Nyakasahara, Kyiebuza, Kyeshama livestock markets, and Kitura goat Market.

In the Circular from the Kiruhura District Chief Administrative Officer Charles Kiberu Nsubuga, to all lower local council chairpersons dated 12th January 2024, they should ensure continued enforcement of the directive.

Original Source URN via : The Independent

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