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Farmers stuck with produce as prices fall



A trader waits for customers at Awange-mola Road in Lira City on Monday. Falling commodity prices has left farmers in uncertainty. PHOTO | ISAAC OTWII

When farmers in north-eastern region started gathering a bumper harvest in July,  many were optimistic their fortunes would change.
Unfortunately, hundreds of farmers are stuck with thousands of tonnes of maize and beans due to the falling prices of their produce.
“I have been hoping to find a good market for my produce but some dealers offer Shs500 per kilogramme while others Shs510, which is very low,” Mr Nelson Okello Otia, a farmer in Chegere Sub-county in Apac Di strict, who is stuck with more than 300 tonnes of maize, says.
This is half of what they used to be offered for a kilogramme last year.
The farmers from Lira, Kwania, Apac, Abim and Soroti districts are now facing uncertainty on how to pay off the loans they acquired to buy seeds and fertilisers.
The farmers attribute the low food prices to the closure of local markets by government as a measure to contain the spread of coronavirus.
They also claim that middlemen take advantage of their vulnerability to cheat them.
An attempt by Mr Mike Ngura Okello, a farmer in Abongomola Sub-county in Kwania to search for market for his soy beans in the past six weeks has been futile.

“Last year, I sold my soy beans at Shs1,500 per kilogramme but this year, they are buying between Shs900 and Shs1,000 yet the cost of production is very high. I’m stuck with 70 tonnes of produce due to lack of a good market,” Mr Ngura says.
The case is the same for Mr Francis Angany, a maize farmer from Apac Sub-county in Apac.
“In the first season, I planted maize on my 34-acre land and I realised a bumper harvest. I contacted some buyers from Lira but they are offering very low prices,” he says.
The recent government announcement of  reopening of education institutions for finalists leaves them wondering on how to raise fees for their children.
The institutions were closed in March after the country recorded its first case of Covid-19.
However,  with support from some NGOs in the region, the farmers could be sheltered from such effects.
For instance, Edukans and ICCO Cooperation NGOs together with Advance Afrika have trained 46 extension workers in Lira, Abim and Soroti districts to facilitate smallholder access to inclusive markets by focusing on changing the “rules of the game” that govern market systems.
Mr Thomas Okello, the Lira production and marketing officer, told Daily Monitor that the negotiation and lobby skills have improved among extension officers.  “The trained extension workers will use the skills to mobilise farmer groups and strengthen their lobbying and communication skills,” Mr Okello says.
He says the production and marketing department will also teach the skills to organised farmer groups formed by youth, women and persons with disabilities.
Statistics from the department indicate that the district has 15 cooperatives and more than 300 smaller groups while Abim has 1,500 farmers in four groups.
“We want to bring them (farmers) on board and strengthen their capacity so that they can demand for essential services and look for better markets for their produce,” Mr Okello says.
He says such interventions will help the region increase agricultural production and productivity.
“When we increase production and productivity, nutrition, food security and household income will also improve,” Mr Okello says.
Ms Lucy Angeo, an extension officer in Abim, says they have already started passing on the skills to the farmers.
“We are imparting these skills to these groups so that we reduce their vulnerability. We are also trying to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers so that they can also access those skills,” she says.
Mr Moses Onika, another extension farmer from Lira, says such skills will prevent farmers from being exploited by middlemen.
“That is why we want to strengthen their capacity so that they can lobby, stand firm and sell their produce at fair prices,” Mr Onika says.

As extension workers pass on lobbying and bargaining skills to farmers to avoid exploitation, some parts of the region may be left out if the number of extension workers is not increased. In Lira, for instance, there are only 39 extension workers against the 54 required personnel. “We are trying to recruit more extension workers because the services contribute to more than 50 per cent of the success of a farmer,” Mr Thomas Okello, the Lira production officer, says. “We also have inadequate value addition facilities and post-harvest handling facilities. Those are the areas we must handle so that we improve agricultural production,” he adds. Mr Okello says they will recruit 10 extension workers this financial year and an additional five the following year.

Original Post: Daily Monitor

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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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