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
Report links 1,600 deaths to pesticide poisoning
A total of 1,599 deaths between 2017 and 2022 were linked to organophosphate (pesticide) poisoning, researchers from Uganda National Institute of Public Health (UNIPH) and the Health ministry found.This information is in one of the reports presented yesterday during the 9th National Field Epidemiology Conference in Kampala.
The study led by Mr Robert Zavuga was based on the data from the District Health Information System (of the Health ministry), which is received from health facilities across the country.“A total of 37,883 (average of 6,314 per year) organophosphate (OP) [health facility] admissions and 1,599 (average of 267 per year) deaths were reported,” the report reads.
OP admission was defined by researchers as a hospital stay due to suspected OP poisoning. In contrast, OP poisoning death was defined as inpatient death with OP poisoning listed as the cause of death.The researchers linked the poisoning to the widespread use of OP pesticides by farmers in the country amid limited knowledge of how to use the pesticides safely.
“Uganda has an agricultural-based economy with widespread use of organophosphate-based pesticides. This elevates the risk for OP poisoning in the population,” the report reads further.According to the report, the overall average incidence was 15 organophosphate admissions per 100,000 persons.
On areas, sex and age that are most affected, the report indicates, “residents of Ankole Sub-region were more affected while those in Lango Sub-region were least affected.”“Males had a higher incidence of organophosphate poisoning than females. Children under 5 years had a higher incidence than persons above 5 years (20 vs 14/100,000),” the report said.
Overall, 1,599 (average of 267 per year) deaths were reported between 2017 and 2022. Residents in Kampala had the highest overall case fatality rate (CFR) while those in Teso had the lowest (CFR: 8.5 percent vs 2.2 percent),” the report reads.
According to the report released yesterday, “there was more than 3-fold decline in incidence of OP poisoning admissions per 100,000 population from 2017-2022,” however, the researchers noted, “there was no significant change in the case fatality rate of organophosphate poisoning.”
“The incidence of organophosphate poisoning admissions declined throughout the study period. Since 2014, Uganda has implemented periodic public awareness campaigns about safe use of pesticides for small-holder farmers and pesticide dealers,” the report says.
“These campaigns have included sensitisation about responsible handling to reduce risk of poisoning and environmental pollution.
Additional campaigns targeting government pesticide regulators, non-governmental organisations, and media have also been implemented to address the dangers of organophosphate poisoning,” it adds.
The report says Uganda has also implemented the Agricultural Chemical Control Act to use less toxic pesticides, which may be contributing to the reduction in organophosphate poisonings.“To continue this decline, it is important to monitor and strengthen these interventions,” the researchers from UNIPH and Health ministry recommended.
Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is due to publish a new Energy Sector Strategy before the end of 2023. A total of 130 civil society organizations from over 40 countries have released a statement calling on the EBRD to end finance for all fossil fuels, including gas.
From 2018 to 2021, the EBRD invested EUR 2.9 billion in the fossil energy sector, with the majority of this support going to gas. This makes it the third biggest funder of fossil fuels among all multilateral development banks, behind the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank.
The EBRD has already excluded coal and upstream oil and gas fields from its financing. The draft Energy Sector Strategy further excludes oil transportation and oil-fired electricity generation. However, the draft strategy would continue to allow some investment in new fossil gas pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, as well as gas power generation and heating.
In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most. At the same time, they highlight, ending support to fossil gas is necessary, not only for climate security, but also for ensuring energy security, since continued investment in gas exposes countries of operation to high and volatile energy prices that can have a severe impact on their ability to reach development targets. Moreover, they underscore that supporting new gas transportation infrastructure is not a solution to the current energy crisis, given that new infrastructure would not come online for several years, well after the crisis has passed.
The signatories of the statement call on the EBRD to amend the Energy Sector Strategy to
- fully exclude new investments in midstream and downstream gas projects;
- avoid loopholes involving the use of unproven or uneconomic technologies, as well as aspirational but meaningless mitigation measures such as “CCS-readiness”; and
- strengthen the requirements for financial intermediaries where the intended nature of the sub-transactions is not known to exclude fossil fuel finance across the entire value chain.
Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf
Kigezi In Famine Scare After Drought Hits The Region
Farmers in Rubanda district are living in fear that they may be hit by famine due to the prolonged drought that has greatly affected the area. This comes after the area was hit by heavy rains in the month of May 2023, which left most of the gardens washed away, and since then the dry season has started up to date.
This is the first of its kind for Rubanda district and Kigezi at large to undergo such a prolonged drought.
According to farmers, this is the first of its kind for Rubanda to go through a long drought, adding that they are in fear that they may be hit by famine since they were used to receiving rains at the beginning of August, which is not the case this year. They add that even the seedlings that they had planted excepting that the rains would come have all dried up by the long spell.
Farmers also say that they don’t know what could be the cause that has stopped the rains,adding that the government should come up with a program that provides them with seedlings.
Akampurira Prossy Mbabazi, a woman Member of Parliament for Rubanda District, says that the issue of drought is not only in Rubanda District; however, this is the first of its kind. She adds that the drought comes after the area was hit by heavy rains, which caused a lot of challenges, adding that now it is the drought that may affect the farmers.
Akampurira further says that, as a leader,she will continue to educate farmers on better methods of farming depending on climate change.
Kikafunda Evelyne, founder of Green Environment Promotion (GEP), says it’s sad that farmers in Rubanda district and Kigezi at large are experiencing a long drought. She attributes it to problems of environmental degradation that include swamps being reclaimed, deforestation, and plastic pollution, adding that this is an indication that people don’t mind about the environment.
Kikafunda calls upon all people to take part in protecting the environment, adding that environmentalists should devise means on how to protect the environment.
It’s now been four months since it last rained in the districts of greater Kabale, that is, Rubanda, Kabale, and Rukiga districts, as well as other parts of the Kigezi Subregion.
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