Hundreds of pastoralists around the cattle corridor, whose livelihood is mainly from the sale of animals, are feeling the squeeze as a result of Covid-19 and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) quarantine that has made it impossible for them to sell animals.
The cattle corridor districts in Uganda sit in Lango, Ankole, Karamoja, Teso, Luweero sub-regions.
In Karamoja, cattle is the source of all livelihood during times of grain shortage. The proceeds from animal sales enable pastoralists secure grains but this has been limited during the lockdown as law enforcers tighten their grip against movement of animals and operation of markets.
Mr Mark Abuko, the Kaabong District chairperson, for told Daily Monitor that pastoralists in his district are struggling with the double tragedy of livestock quarantine and Covid-19 pandemic guidelines as they cannot sell in open markets.
“I belief the most disadvantaged people in this era of Covid-19 have been pastoralists in areas of Karamoja, where livestock quarantine has affected pastoralists. Before we could cope with effects of foot-and-mouth disease, another human disease struck,” he says.
Mr Abuko says the pastoralists have had to rely on relief from the World Food Programme (WFP), adding that these rations are not proportionate to the food needs of families.
“I thank WFP, but during normal days, such food ration would be supplemented with other grains bought using proceeds from animal sale. It is not the case now,” the Kaabong District chairperson says.
A clan elder in Kotido Sub-county, Mr Joel Lomongin, says some unscrupulous pastoralists have been prompted to set up illegal markets, which has increased tension in Karamoja, adding that stolen animals are always sold in these markets that are unknown to the district authorities.
He adds that this has left the community at crossroads of both veterinary and law enforcement officers.
Mr John Dengel, a pastoralist in Nadunget, Moroto District, says ever since the quarantine caused by the foot and mouth disease was imposed, vaccination exercises have not been done.
Mr Fredrick Eladu, the Kaabong District Veterinary Officer, told Daily Monitor that vaccination was completed a week ago, adding that as veterinary officer, all they are waiting for are officers from the diagnostic department from Entebbe to carry out zero surveillance.
Mr Eladu adds that even though the quarantine gets lifted, the other hurdle standing in the way of pastoralists will be the closed markets.
“For the time we have been in this double quarantine, pastoralists have been selling chicken, charcoal,” he says.
Mr Eladu says a great deal of livelihood among pastoralists has been lost, adding that the outcome in the next few weeks from the diagnostic team at Entebbe will inform when FMD will be lifted by the commissioner-in-charge of animal health.
He adds that FMD is a contagious viral disease, which affects animals which have divided hooves, and severely affects production of livestock.
Mr Robert Kennedy Okuda, the production officer in Kotido, says the ministry delivered limited vaccines to the tune of only 10,000 doses against 5,578,000 head of cattle in Kotido alone.
“It means we only vaccinated 0.5 per cent of animals in the entire Kotido,” he adds.
Mr Okuda says because of delayed vaccination, pastoralists in protest started setting up illegal cattle markets, which law enforcement officers have clamped down, and animals sold in such settings have been confiscated and sold locally upon our advice as technical officers.
In Kazo District, there are seven monthly cattle markets, some operating once a month and others twice, each giving the district Shs8 million every financial year which translates into Shs56 million.
Livestock and general merchandise markets have been closed for five months now, which has rendered the district short of money.
“Local revenue finances 14 per cent of the district budget; this means we have to adjust the budget because there is no compensation. Trading licence collections are very low; shops and other businesses in trading centres have been closed,” Mr Laban Kanyohora, the Kazo interim vice chairperson, said on Monday.
He added: “We hope the central government will find a way of covering this shortfall. It should consider giving us money to compensate for the revenue we have lost.”
The chairperson of Butuku Cattle Marketing Cooperative Society in Ntoroko District, Mr Charles Kasoro, says the situation is very difficult for them because selling cattle is their only income generating activity. He adds that cattle markets are vital for their survival.
“We do not dig, so if we cannot sell our cattle, we cannot get food,” Mr Kasoro says.
“We have been selling our cows to the neighbouring districts of Bundibugyo and Kabarole and in return, they also sell us food; but now we are stuck,” he says.
He adds that although there is food in the market, they have no money to buy it.
Mr Kasoro wants the President to consider opening cattle markets to allow Ntoroko people to resume their earnings.
“We can manage separating food and cattle if the President considers reopening our markets. We are ready to adhere to all measures,” Mr Kasoro says.
In Sembabule, quarantine has been in force since August 7, 2019.
This forced Lwemiyaga County legislator Theodore Ssekikubo to mobilise farmers to defy quarantine restrictions and this led to his arrest in January.
But a July 7 letter by the commissioner of Animal Health, Ms Anna Rose Ademun, lifted quarantine restrictions which brought excitement among livestock farmers in the affected sub-counties of Mitima and Lugusulu.
“The purpose of this communication is, therefore to inform you that the quarantine restrictions imposed on have been lifted,” Ms Ademun’s letter reads in part.
Although the quarantine was lifted, farmers still cannot sell their animals since cattle markets are closed as one of the measures to curb spread of coronavirus.
Mr Ezekiel Gumisiriza, a cattle farmer in Kabukongote Village, Malongo Sub-county in Sembabule District, says due to coronavirus restrictions middlemen are taking advantage of farmers.
Mr Robert Kanyete, the chairperson of Nyekundiri Farmers Association in Kyalulangira Sub-county, Rakai District, said the lock down has greatly affected farmers since cattle dealers no longer come.
“Cattle dealers come from Kampala, Masaka and other urban areas, but since Rakai District is among border districts and public transport is still restricted, farmers have no one to buy,” he said
In Lyantonde, Mr Fred Muhangi, the district chairperson, said although the quarantine has been lifted in the area, farmers still have to wait for the government to reopen cattle markets.
“People are free to sell their animals from the farms provided they can observe social distancing,” he said.
In Nakasongola, Mr Sam Kigula, the district chairperson, says the unending quarantine status that covers 80 per cent of the district continues to cripple the different development and service delivery sectors that depend on the local revenue resource envelope from the livestock industry.
“Nakasongola was hit hard. We had anticipated that the sub-counties of Nabiswera, Wabinyonyonyi and Nakitoma could have a partial lifting of the cattle quarantine but it has not been possible,” he adds.
The district local revenue resource envelope has dropped to the lowest in the past three years.
“We now post an estimated Shs150m unlike the years before the cattle quarantine when the district registered Shs400m,” Mr Kigula told the Daily Monitor.
Authorities respond. Dr Robert Ojala, the regional veterinary inspector for Teso and Karamoja sub-regions, says the country has done vaccination, saying some of this vaccination was selectively done in areas with pronounced Foot and mouth disease.
He admits that in Kotido, the vaccine delivered was not commiserate to the numbers, and it is the reason that selective vaccination was carried out.
“For the case of Katakwi, Karamoja, a team of doctors from the diagnostic department from Entebbe are expected to carry out tests this week for zero surveillance, and when the tests come out negative, the commissioner in charge animal health will lift the quarantine,” Mr Ojala says.
He adds that although this lifting is anticipated, he is not sure how cattle keepers will sell their animals because the Covid-19 strain lives on.
Mr Ojala says he understands the anxiety among pastoralists and businessmen dealing in cattle, but they will have to wait a little longer to sell their products.
Compiled by Simon Peter Emwamu, Steven Ariong, Alfred Tumushabe, Scovia Atuhaire, Al-Malahdi Ssenkabirwa, Wilson Kutamba, Paul Ssekandi, Dan Wandera.
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.
Ban GMOs in Africa, farmers urge govts
A cross section of residents from the oil-rich Albertine Region have petitioned African heads of state to ban genetically modified organism (GMOs) and crops across the continent to save Africa’s indigenous crops and animal species from extinction.
The August 26, petition addressed to President William Ruto of Kenya, the Chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, asks African heads of states who are meeting this week for Africa Climate Dialogue to pass strong resolutions to ban GMOs.
Africa Climate Dialogue kicks off today in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the World.”
Co-hosted by the Kenya and the African Union Commission, it brings together heads of state and Government, policymakers, civil society organisations, the private sector, multilateral institutions and the youth to design and catalyse actions and solutions for climate change in Africa.
The petitioners under the Uganda Oil Refinery Residents, have made a raft of recommendations including passing a strong resolution to immediately ban the use and promotion of GMO products in African countries, a resolution for promotion of indigenous species of plant seeds and animals in all African states and another resolution to increase budget allocation for agriculture with focus on research in preservation and conservation of indigenous species of plants and animals in Africa.
“This will contribute to knowledge sharing and awareness creation on the relevance of indigenous species as a response to climate change,” the petition recommends, adding: “Lastly, pass resolution to integrate indigenous agriculture practices in education curriculum in some relevant subjects like agriculture and biology in all African countries. This will enable preservation and increased knowledge among the young people on the need to preserve and promote indigenous species.”
The petitioners, drawn from Kabaale and Busheruka sub-counties in Hoima District Uganda where there are planned oil refineries and other infrastructure, say GMOs present a number of risks and their introduction onto the continent could have a huge negative impact on food security, indigenous crops and organisms, health risks and associated problems.
The petitioners say while different African states have made a number of policies, laws and commitments regarding climate change, including integrating the aspect of climate justice into their different state legislations, as a grass root community whose livelihood entirely depends on agriculture, they still believe that leaders have not done enough to respond to these calamities.
“The major concern is about the use and promotion of genetically modified organisms [for both plants and animals] in Africa.
Uganda, whose backbone is agriculture, once known for its indigenous plants and animals now faces many difficulties in dealing with these invasive species. Maintenance and management strategies of these species require a lot of capital in terms of purchasing inputs such as fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, among others,” the petition reads in part.
The petitioners say with the worsening climate change, the introduction of one season fast maturing plants has made it difficult for farmers to plan. They argue that GMOs, which they claim are invasive species onto the continent, cannot withstand climate change and weather vagaries and therefore increase food insecurity on the continent.
“As earlier stated, these species require many inputs in terms of chemicals like fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, processed feeds, and vaccines, among others that are all expensive for the ordinary African farmers,” they add in the petition.
The petitioners also contend that in Africa, more than 85 percent of grass root communities heavily rely on rain-fed agriculture and that the ‘invasive species’ are not resistant and not compatible with the local environmental conditions.
“As such, they require effective irrigation as an alternative, which is extremely expensive for grass root communities. Whereas these GMOs were initially introduced as a solution to enhance agricultural productivity and food security, there has been a concerning trend of a financial strain on communities due to the high costs associated with these invasive species,” the petition states.
“Buying seasonal seeds for planting and agricultural inputs to manage these species among others is not sustainable and oftentimes leads to significant drain of limited financial resources within the communities. The local farmers are often compelled to divert funds from other essential needs such as education, healthcare and basic infrastructure development,” the petition adds.
They also say there is an increased outbreak of pests and disease, which is attributed to the increase in temperatures caused by the changing climate. Unfortunately, they say, GMOs are prone to attack by these pests and diseases.
They also say the GMOs present huge health risks to the local communities, who are illiterate and do not understand the precautions to follow while using these pesticides and herbicides.
This, according to the petition, exposes the users to high risks of contracting diseases through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact that can lead to acute and chronic health related issues.
“These include respiratory diseases, skin irritations, neurological disorders, and even certain types of cancers in the end. Most grass root women are also worried about the consumption of these genetically modified organisms since they are mainly treated with chemicals; others are injected with hormones to increase their shelf-life spans,” the petition states.
Source: Daily Monitor
NEBBI: Livestock disease kills 14,000 goats
Nebbi, Uganda. The Nebbi district veterinary department is struggling to contain an outbreak of the Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), a disease which is highly fatal in cattle and other hoofed animals.
At least 14,650 goats have died and 53,397 goats have been infected following the outbreak of the disease which was first reported in 2022.
According to the local authorities, the disease has since spread to a cross all the sub counties like Erussi, Nebbi ,Alala Jupangira Atego ,Ndhew and Kucwiny as well as Nebbi Municipality.
Moreen Awekonimungu, a livestock farmer in Nebbi Municipality says that she has so far lost three goats since the outbreak was reported a year ago. She further notes that an infected animal dies within two weeks after presenting with signs and symptoms of the disease.
The Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP) is an infectious disease caused by mycoplasmas and it mostly affects ruminants.
The diseases are transmitted through direct contact and inhalation of droplets from infected animals. Symptoms include fever, nasal discharge, coughing, difficult respiration, edema, and lung tissue abnormalities.
Emmauel Ongeitho, the Nebbi Municipality assistant veterinary officer blames the persistence of the diseases on the poor attitude of farmers against vaccination of their livestock. According to Ongeitho several farmers shunned the mass vaccination exercise which resulted in a spike in livestock deaths.
According to Dr. William Abedkane, the principal veterinary Officer for Nebbi district, the outbreak which started last year has been killing goats silently since farmers are hesitant to report the cases to the veterinary officers in their respective sub counties.
Abedkane further appealed to farmers to pay attention to animal health just like they do with their own health.
According to information from the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the outbreak of Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP disease was first confirmed in Uganda in 1995 in Karamoja region.
Original Source: URA Via The Independent.
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