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Farmers cry foul as FMD cripples animal business.

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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

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Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

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Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.

Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,”  he said.

Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.

Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”

Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.

While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.

Original source: Monitor

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Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

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About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.

The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.

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Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda

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Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.

The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.

An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.

The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.

He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border.  The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.

Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.

He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Original Source: URN via The independent

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