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
Access to land, capital hampering youth’s involvement in agri-business
Stakeholder engagement with governments to support the youths should be a component of every programme
Young people in sub-Saharan Africa have keen interest in agriculture especially with the use of technology but are hampered with numerous challenges including limited access to land, skills set, sustainable financing and access to markets, a new report has revealed.
A new study carried out by Heifer International in 21 African countries titled ‘The Future of Africa’s Agriculture – An Assessment of the Role of Youth and Technology,’ reveals that 10 out of 11 countries, with the exception of Tanzania agreed that the most important support required is funding.
However, more training and mentorship were seen as more important than funding in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
The survey also reveals that whereas more youths in Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe stressed the need for support in the area of access to markets, their counterparts in Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana prioritized the need for support in agri-technologies. Access to land was the major concern for the youth in Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The organisations working in the sector suggested that the best way to engage youths in agriculture is through technological innovation (39%), government support for young farmers (32%) and inclusion of youths in agriculture policy formulation (21%).
“Most youths in Africa also do not have access to land for agriculture. 59% of youths surveyed do not have access or own land. Land ownership amongst young people is lowest in Ghana, Zambia, Senegal and Rwanda,” the survey notes. “Youths in Malawi seem to have access to land, with only 14% having no access, the lowest among countries surveyed.”
Overall, technology adoption in Africa too remains low, with Ghana, Senegal and Zambia having the lowest agri-tech adoption rate. Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria have the highest technological adoption rates, according to the survey that featured 30,000 youths, stakeholders in innovations and small holder farmers.
William Matovu, a director at Heifer International-Uganda said the paradox of Africa’s economic development is that the continent’s urban and rural populations who produce most of the food is mostly comprised of smallholder farmers practicing subsistence farming while living in extreme poverty.
“This scenario scares away the continent’s youth from careers in agriculture, yet ordinarily Africa’s youth should be replacing the aging farming population but this generational shift is not happening fast and well enough to secure Africa’s food security goals,” he said.
He reckoned that Africa’s youths disapproving attitude towards agriculture is mainly a result of lack of funding which is the biggest barrier towards their interest in the sector.
Africa’s agricultural sector accounts for nearly 30% of the GDP of sub-Saharan Africa and employs 54% of the work force, but it is still underdeveloped.
Mondo Kyateeka, the Commissioner for Youth and Child Affairs at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development said unfortunately, young people are selling off the only available land to migrate to cities or go abroad for low-skills jobs
He said there are also feelings that older people are not willing to relinquish the land they can no longer use, to the younger persons to use it.
He, however, said the government is seeking ways of curbing the sale of agricultural land, saying the position is that agricultural land should remain for that purpose.
As a result, the survey recommends a review of existing programmes that targets smallholder farmers and that youths must be conducted to determine if the current strategies support the African farmer with the use of technology.
“Innovation must be viewed within the context of the current realities,’ the survey notes. Beyond a smart App, the survey says providing linkages to local and regional markets will go a long way in improving the financial bottom-line of every farmer. The survey says digital literacy must also be a key consideration.
The survey says while smallholder farmers in rural areas do not have access to smart phones or Internet access, a basic phone is a good starting point in introducing the use of technology, through weekly SMS on prevailing market prices and best input bargains.
Furthermore, youths with a keen interest in agri-tech must work collaboratively with smallholder farmers to get a better understanding of their challenges and how to provide sustainable and affordable solutions.
“There is also need to capture data to provide evidence-based results on the immediate benefit and long-term impact of the use of technology by smallholder farmers,” the survey notes, adding that stakeholder engagement with the governments to provide access to land, tax waivers and fiscal policies that deliberately support youths in the sector should be a component of every programme.
Butaleja farmers oppose govt ban on growing rice
Farmers in rice gardens in Hisega Village, Butaleja Town Council, Butaleja District last week.
Farmers in Butaleja District have opposed the government’s decision of banning the growing of rice and other crops in wetlands across the country, saying they should have been consulted.
The farmers say the decision will affect their livelihoods and push them further into poverty.
Last week, the government banned the growing of rice and other crops in wetlands.
In a resolution passed by Cabinetand communicated by the Minister of State for Water and Environment, Ms Beatrice Anywar, the government said the move will restore the environment that has been degraded by farming activities.
Ms Anywar said Uganda’s wetland coverage has dropped from 17.5 per cent in the early 1990s to 8.5 per cent, while forest coverage has dropped from 24 per cent to 12.4 per cent.
Mr David Mulabi, a rice farmer and former contestant for Bunyole East MP, last week said the decision is inhuman and one of the examples of the many discriminative and recklessly managed policy processes.
“The government has been giving out forests to foreigners to build industries. They have not said anything about urban encroachment on wetlands for home construction. Why target the poor farmers who have nowhere to go and have been farming in these wetlands for over 50 years,”Mr Mulabi wondered.
He such a policy with a huge potential for social impact should have gone through long studies and consultations before its implemented.
Mr Mulabi said this could be another government ploy to marginalise the rice farmers in the district, which is about 40 per cent covered by water bodies and wetlands.
“They j simply need to drop the whole thing and start afresh with proper policy consultation with a view of not evicting farmers but to get sustainable and practical solutions,” he said.
Mr Mulabi also accused government for giving a tax waiver to traders to import rice, something he said has led to price drop and has affected the farmers’ income.
“Instead of giving such money to our farmers to improve output, they supported foreign farmers at the expense of Ugandan farmers,” he said.
Ms Sarah Nagawa, another rice farmer, said the decision should be shelved, saying they earn their livelihoods from wetlands.
“These wetlands have paid for my children’s school fees including myself.They should think of better ways instead of taking decisions without consulting us,” he said.
Mr Abdu Walubya, a resident, said the district has been depending on wetlands for farming.
“Almost 70 per cent of the homesteads of the population generate their income through use of these wetlands.Others live and sleep in wetlands. How will the government handle those who sleep and stay in wetlands, ”Mr Walubya said.
The district chairperson, Mr Micheal Higenyi Bory, said if the government takes over wetlands without a clear plan, it will lead to bloodshed.
Raw deal for Sebei as Irish potato prices drop
Farmers in Sebei Sub-region are counting losses following a drastic drop in the prices of Irish potatoes
Farmers in Sebei Sub-region are counting losses following a drastic drop in the prices of Irish potatoes.
A bag of Irish at a farm gate costs about Shs30,000 from Shs70,000 and a kilogramme goes for Shs300 from Shs700.
Farmers attribute the drop in prices to the Covid-19 disruptions, poor road network and the surplus harvest of Irish in neighbouring Kenya, which has now ended in the Uganda market.
In an interview with Daily Monitor at the weekend, the farmers said they were expecting to make fortunes out of the bumper harvest.
They have asked the government to start up a processing plant so that they can add value to the irish.
Mr Isaac Sande, a farmer in Chemonge Village, Kapchesombe, East Division in Kapchorwa District, said they were giving away their produce to middlemen.
“We are just dumping our produce because we don’t have any other alternative. We are making losses and yet we had anticipated better prices,” he said.
Mr Sande said this was the worst price they had experienced in a decade.
“I had invested about Shs3 million as part of a loan from a savings group, expecting to get Shs7 million, but this is now impossible,” he said.
Mr Satya Malewa, the vice chairperson of Kwoti Kapenguria Farmers Group, attributed the low prices to an influx of Irish from Kenya.
“Buyers would easily move here for potatoes, but it is now hard because of hiked transport costs,” he said, adding: “The government should provide us with soft loans.”
Mr Joshua Cherotich,a farmer in Kamakunga, Kapchesombe Sub-county, Kapchorwa District, said he is stuck with about 2 tonnes of irish.
“I invested a lot of money, but the middlemen are giving us peanuts. But by all means, I will give it away because it will rot,” he said.
Mr Joseph Mangusho, a resident of Benet Sub-County in Kween District, said the government should improve the transport network.
“We also don’t have warehouses from where we can store our Irish,” he said.
Ms Susan Chemutai, the secretary for production of Kapchorwa District, said the district produces between 400 and 500 tonnes of Irish potatoes per season.
Ms Everlyne Kubarika, the chairperson of Kapchorwa District, said Sebei Sub-region produces a lot of Irish, which if processed can lift the farmers out of poverty.
Mr William Chemonges, the MP for Kween County, who also seats in the Parliamentary Committee of Science, Technology and Innovation, said they made a presentation to the line minister (on value addition for Irish) who will brief them next month.
“Our farmers face a major challenge of prices. We need a processing plant and machines that can transform the raw Irish into other products in powder form. The Irish should also be preserved for two to three years,’’ he said.
Original Source: Daily monitor.co.ug