Farmers cry foul as FMD cripples animal business.
Farmers at Kisenyi Livestock Market in Mubende District following the temporary lifting of quarantine on May 5, 2020.
Livestock farmers in the cattle corridor districts are crying foul as the ripple effects of Food and Mouth Disease (FMD) continue to cripple the sector.
In February, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries imposed a livestock quarantine and closed cattle markets in several districts across the country following a fresh outbreak of FMD.
Some of the districts, which were affected, include Kiruhura, Lyantonde, Kalungu, Sembabule, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Kiryandongo, and Nakaseke.
Others are Isingiro, Nakasongola, Rakai, Masindi, Gomba, Mbarara, and Ibanda.
The problem, according to farmers, has been worsened by the second lockdown, which saw markets where they sell their dairy products closed.
Mr Kenneth Kugumisiriza, a livestock farmer in Lugusulu Sub-county, Sembabule District, said they have spent two months now without registering a single case of FMD and wondered why government has delayed to lift the quarantine in the area.
“In Sembabule, we are used to unending quarantines but currently the district is free from FMD. However, authorities are still reluctant to lift the quarantine,” he said during an interview last Wednesday.
Mr Amon Natukunda, another farmer in the same district, said the quarantine should be swiftly lifted to enable them sustain their families during the second Covid-19 induced lockdown.
“We have been very patient despite receiving nothing like relief from government. So, let them base on that to lift the quarantine so that we can earn some money and fend for our families,” he said.
However, Dr Angello Ssali, the Sembabule District veterinary officer, said it is still early to lift the quarantine because some livestock is not yet vaccinated.
“We received 3,600 doses and vaccinated animals in Nyamitanga Sub-county where Sembabule borders with Lyantonde, and we are expecting more vaccines before end of the month though the ministry has not yet confirmed the quantities. So, when we are done with that, we will consider lifting the quarantine in all affected cattle corridor areas,” he said.
The cattle corridor runs from Moroto and Kotido in North East through central Uganda to the South West of Mubende, Sembabule, Lyantonde, Rakai, Isingiro and Mbarara.
In Nakasongola, where a three-year quarantine had been lifted in November, it was reinstated early this month after veterinary officers detected some sick animals at some farms. The new cattle quarantine affects only Kakooge Sub-county, according Mr Sam Kigula, the district chairperson.
District revenue affected
“More than 85 per cent of our local revenue resource envelope is derived from the animal products, but for the financial years 2018/2019, 2019/20 and 2020/2021, our district has suffered a total cattle quarantine affecting all the sub-counties leading to a sharp fall in revenue collections,” he said.
As a result of FMD, Mr Kigula said the district local revenue collections has fallen from Shs400 million to Shs150 million in the past one year. Available statistics indicate that the district has more than 300,000 head of cattle and more than 1,000 animals are transported out of the district to different market areas daily.
In Mbarara, Kiruhura, Ibanda, Kazo where authorities have maintained a total ban on movement and sale of animals and their products, farmers are also suffering.
Mr Safari Mugyenyi, a livestock farmer in Sanga Village, Kiruhura District, said they are sinking into poverty since they no longer have any income .
“We entirely derive our livelihoods from meat, milk, ghee but ever since FMD was detected, we are not earning yet we have to sustain our families,” he said.
He said the continuous outbreak of FMD is fuelled by cross border cattle movements from the neighbouring Tanzania.
“Government knows the source of FMD, but instead of establishing an isolation centre or holding ground at the border where screening of livestock can be done before allowing them to enter our country , they are emphasising vaccination, which is very expensive ,” Mr Mugyenyi said.
On top of FMD, Mugyeyi said they are also battling Rift Valley Fever (RVF) which recently hit the area. “Rift Valley Fever is equally another pandemic like Covid and we have so far lost one person in Kinoni Sub-county, Nyabushozi County, but still we do not see serious response from government,” he complained.
RVF is a viral disease most commonly seen in domesticated animals in sub-Saharan Africa, such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels. People can get RVF through contact with blood, body fluids, or tissues of infected animals, or through bites from mosquitoes.
Anthony Asiimwe, a farmer in Kikatsi Village, Kiruhura District, said they are also battling Lumpy Skin Disease which has so far killed one animal on his farm.
Dr Grace Asiimwe, the Kiruhura District veterinary officer, acknowledged that RVF is spreading fast in the area but is confident that it will soon be contained .
However, Dr Asiimwe downplayed the impact of Lumpy Skin Disease.
“Its[Lumpy Skin Disease] prevalence is less than 5 per cent unlike the other two diseases and if farmers cooperate and report the cases early, we shall contain all of them.” he added.
Lumpy Skin Disease, Dr Asiimwe said, is caused by lumpy skin virus and is spread by biting insects/vectors such as flies and mosquitoes.
State minister for Animal Industry Bright Rwamirama and the commissioner for Animal Health, Dr Anne Rose Ademun, both did not pick repeated calls from this newspaper.
But Ms Charlotte Kemigisha, the spokesperson of the ministry of Agriculture, said they will soon issue a statement on FMD and other livestock disease outbreaks.
Efforts to contain spread
Mbarara District Veterinary Officer Andrew Akashaba said they had put stringent measures to ensure that both RVF and Lumpy Skin Disease do not spread to the area. “Our farmers are already suffering because of FMD and we do not want to add insult to injury,” Dr Akashaba said.
The persistent FMD has also partly caused cattle shortage in many areas, which has seen beef prices increase from about Shs10,000 to Shs16,000 in the last six months.
Mr Jomo Mugabi, the mayor of Mbarara South Division in Mbarara City and a livestock farmer, said when FMD hit the area, he shifted his focus to matooke, but the prices have also fallen .
Mr Yosia Bagabo , the chairperson of Kabula Dairy Cooperative Society in Lyantonde District, said FMD has seen milk production in the area reduce by 50 per cent in the last six months.
“Milk production has dropped from 40,000 litres to 20,000 litres per day, causing a total loss of Shs3.6 billion in the last six months,” Mr Bagabo said.
He said the cooperative loses Shs2 million daily because it was earning Shs100 from every litre of milk it was selling.
Dr Ronald Bameka , the Lyantonde District veterinary officer, said they are losing Shs10 million per month in local revenue .
“But our people should know that this disease [FMD) has become endemic and the only magic bullet is continuous vaccination,” he said
Dr Erias Kizito, the Rakai District veterinary officer, said the area is currently free of FMD due to the techniques they employed during the March vaccination exercise.
“Whenever we get some doses of vaccines from the government, we make sure that we vaccinate the cattle in the border area and the routes where the cattle pass. By doing so, we have ended up getting some relief and we currently have no new cases,” he said.
He also said his team has made a lot of sensitisation among farmers on the dangers of FMD and how to prevent it .
“The farmers are now aware of the dangers of the disease, so they make sure they implement all the possible preventive measures.” he added.
Original Source: Daily Monitor
Falling coffee prices, reduced output forecasts rattle Uganda farmers
There has been a slump in international coffee prices and shipping costs in the last quarter of 2022
Uganda’s coffee industry is walking into a challenging 2023 defined by falling prices and diminished output forecasts following the recent dry spell that hit major growing areas.
While the sector enjoyed a boom between 2020 and 2022 – with surging coffee prices, rising export volumes and considerable incomes for farmers – decline in international shipping costs and improved production forecasts in Brazil triggered a slump in coffee prices in the last quarter of 2022, according to industry players.
International shipping costs dropped from record highs of $10,000 per container charged on certain sea routes in January 2022 to less than $2,000. Shipping fees charged per 20-foot container ferried from Indonesia to North America, for example, are estimated at $800-$1,000 currently.
Consequently, local and international coffee prices have dropped since October 2022.
International robusta coffee prices fell from an average price of $2,400 per tonne to $1,856 per tonne towards the end of last year, according to industry data. Local robusta coffee prices declined from Ush7,200 ($1.9) per kilogramme to Ush5,800 ($1.6) per kilogramme during the second half of 2022 while Arabica coffee prices fell from Ush11,000 ($2.9) per kilogramme to Ush8,000 ($2) per kilogramme in the period.
In 2021, average coffee prices stood at more than Ush15,000 ($4) per kilogramme.
Robusta coffee production accounts for more than 60 percent of Uganda’s overall coffee output.
Besides gloomy coffee price forecasts for 2023, a severe dry spell in the past six months could pose a huge threat to coffee production levels. The weather affected major coffee-growing areas like the Central region and risks cutting this year’s output to around 5.5 million bags, industry players forecast.
“Brazil and Vietnam are headed for a bumper coffee harvest this year while India and Indonesia have discounted their local coffee prices in a way that has undercut Uganda’s growth momentum on the international market,” said Robert Byaruhanga, chief executive of local exporter Funzo Coffee Ltd.
Asian and Latin American coffee exporters are regaining dominance in European and North American markets after the lockdown period because of the lower coffee prices, reduced freight charges, shorter port clearance turnaround times and reasonable coffee quality grades, Byaruhanga explained.
Ugandan farmers are now holding onto their coffee produce in anticipation of better prices.
Overall coffee exports stood at 6.26 million bags valued at $862.28 million in 2021/22 compared to 6.08 million bags worth $559.16 million registered in 2020/21, data from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority shows.
An estimated 447,162. 60 kilogramme bags of coffee valued at $64.1 million were exported in November 2022 at an average price of $2.39 per kilogramme — 6 US cents lower than the average price of $2.45 per kilogramme posted in October 2022.
Original Source: Daily Monitor
Over 40 goats die of PPR disease in Madi-Okollo
At least 43 goats have died of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) disease, also known as ‘goat plague’ and several others are undergoing treatment in Madi-Okollo district.
Madi-Okollo district veterinary officer, Dr Charles Onzima, says the viral disease, which is related to rinderpest in sheep as well as goats, has claimed the lives of goats in Olali parish in Ogoko sub-county.
He adds that PPR disease was confirmed in the district after 500 local and 94 Boer goats were supplied to families in Olali parish under a poverty eradication programme that he suspects infected the local goats.
43 of the boar goats died while 10 of the local goats of the communities also died of PPR disease.
Onzima says immediately after receiving information about the disease, the veterinary officers got the goats manifesting the signs of PPR that include sudden onset of depression, fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, sores in the mouth, breathing difficulty and death among others.
He says that they have already had three rounds of vaccination for the available goats in the affected area.
Original Source: New Vision Via harvestmoney.co.ug
Artisanal gold miners defy government on mercury use
In October, President Museveni signed into the law the Mining and Minerals Act 2022. One of the key provisions in the law is the banning of mercury use in mining activities.
Artisanal and small scale gold miners in Uganda use mercury to separate gold from the ores, a method they say is cost effective, fast and easy to use. During this process, mercury is mixed with gold containing materials to form a mercury gold amalgam which is then heated to obtain the gold from the sediments.
The miners do the processing without wearing any personal protective gear. However, different Non- Government and Civil Society Organizations have over the years warned these miners against using mercury as it poses serious health threats to human life and dangerous to the environment.
But even with the government banning the use of mercury and several warning about the dangers it imposes, gold miners are not yet ready to stop using the substance especially since the government is not providing any viable alternative method they can use.
In Tiira mining site, Tiira town council, Busia district, gold miners expressed their concerns on this ban. Stephen Engidhoh, the Eastern Uganda chairman of Uganda Association of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (UGAASM) said that mining has created jobs for over 30,000 people in Busia alone and with the government ban on use of mercury, many of them are likely to remain jobless.
He noted that in every sub county in Busia district, there are people during the exploration of minerals but the large gold discoveries here should not be an excuse to eliminate the small-scale miners from the mining sector because these minerals belong to all of them and it where they make a living from.
He added that if government wants this directive to be implemented, it should enforce it gradually and after finding an alternative method the miners can use.
“Government should first sensitize the miners about the dangers of using mercury before eliminating it. By government coming to abruptly ban the use of mercury, it is already creating indirect employment for smugglers to smuggle it into the country than they think they are eliminating,” Engidoh said.
Paul Angesu, the chairman on Tiira Landlords and Artisanal Miners Association said that even though they have been told that mercury is dangerous, for all the years they have used, they have never seen anyone experiencing the danger they say it causes.
“The government still needs to carry out thorough investigations on the possible dangers of using mercury so that it presents to the local miners with practical evidence that indeed mercury is dangerous and this will make us to easily stop using it,” Angesu said.
He added that sometime back, the Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health (UNACOH) came and took samples of mercury from the miners but they were not able to submit in the feedback for them to know if indeed they are indeed being affected by mercury.
An alternative gold extraction method which has been suggested to the artisanal gold miners is the use of borax method’ a technique of artisanal gold mining which use borax (a chemical compound) as a flux to purify gold. However, the miners say the government has not taken the initiative of introducing this method to them and training them on how to use it.
“They want us to use borax as an alternative to mercury but most of us don’t even know how borax looks like or even how it works. How do they expect us to start using something they have never taken the initiative to introduce to us?” Angesu asked.
Ramadhan Birenge, a gold miner in Namayingo district has tried using borax before after an NGO brought a sample of it to them. He however said that there is no any another way a miner can use to get gold clearly and quickly other than using mercury.
“The borax they are telling us to use is very expensive and not easily accessible to us, we don’t even know where it is sold and to get gold through using borax is a very long process yet mercury is a very easy, shorter process and relatively cheap.”
John Bosco Bukya, the chairman of Uganda Artisanal Miners Association told The Observer that they are law abiding citizens and since they have tested the consequences of operating in irregularities, they have no big problem with banning of mercury use in mining areas.
But however, before government bans it, it should provide the miners with an alternative processing reagent. He noted that government may not succeed with the ban and not because the miners don’t want to stop using mercury, but because the available alternatives must be effective, efficient and affordable.
“We don’t know anything about the borax method which they say can be an alternative. We don’t know where it is manufactured from, neither its cost or effectiveness. Government should first train the miners of an alternative method, test its effectiveness and efficiency before banning the method currently being used. If it is more efficient, definitely miners will stop using mercury,” Bukya said.
He also advised government to first sensitize these miners about the dangers of mercury before enforcing it and then phase it out gradually and not immediately because it is going to affect the livelihoods of Ugandans who are in this sector and yet it is the responsibility of government to make sure that all Ugandans thrive in their businesses.
Mercury is smuggled into Uganda through the porous borders with Kenya by cartels which makes its trade illegal. It is then discreetly sold to artisanal miners in Busia with a Kg costing between Shs 600,000 to Shs 1 million.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to mercury, even small amounts may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes as well as pose a threat to the development of the child in the womb for pregnant women.
Most of these ailments manifest over time. People who burn the gold usually take in large doses of mercury because they directly inhale the metals but those who may get it after eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with mercury take it in slowly and it accumulates over time.
Mercury also contaminates the soil making it infertile and unable to support agriculture, water and air. Mercury emitted to the air can also circulate around and contaminate water, fish and wildlife far from the mine from which it was released which affects the biodiversity.
Original Source: The Observer
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