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Investor bans cattle farmers from grazing on Maruzi Ranch land…

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By witnessradio.org Team.

Apac – Uganda – thousands of cattle keepers surrounding Maruzi Ranch in Apac district are stranded following an order by the proprietor of Hill Side Ag-ricultural Investment Limited ordered them not to graze their livestock on the ranch land.

Sitting on approximately 64 square kilometers of land, Maruzi Ranch has been home to close to 2000 squatters since 1995.

In 2019, the government allocated 54 square miles of Maruzi Ranch land to Hillside Agricultural Investment Ltd under a 50-year lease, to be used for the establishment of Palm Oil production.

However, an agreement between the government and the company stipulated that 10 square kilometers of the Ranch land be left for use by the project-affected communities and for outgrowing activities.

Now residents neighboring the ranch have accused the agricultural company’s authorities of denying them the opportunity to graze their livestock there.

According to the LC II Chairperson of Tarogali parish in Ibuje Sub County, Constantine Okao, said farmers received an order from the investor to stop any grazing activity by residents on the land, on grounds that it will destroy their plantations.

Okao has now called upon the government to guide on the next course of ac-tion for the affected residents, because they have nowhere else to graze their cattle.

Veronica Akello, a resident of Tarogali parish who owns about 78 heads of cattle, said she is now left with no option following the ban by Hillside Com-pany.
“My animals are now scavenging; I fear that they will soon start dying if the situation is left unattended to,” she said.
Another farmer, Paul Ocen a resident of Acamkado and owner of over 200 heads of cattle said he has started selling off some of his animals cheaply as a result of the ongoing situation.

“If I don’t sell the animals, they will die. The agreement was very clear that we would be given somewhere to graze our animals. I call upon the district leaders to come to our rescue,” Ocen said in an interview.

The Apac District Speaker, Peter Obong Acuda, said that he has already met with the Director of Hill Side Agricultural Investment Ltd and asked him to hold off on the eviction directive as an amicable solution found for the affected residents.

“I engaged the manager and agreed that we should allow members of the com-munity to graze their animals, and there should be no forceful eviction of resi-dents from grazing their animals within the area. We are waiting for what shall be given to us in terms of 10 square miles,” he said in a telephone interview.

In 1968, the government of Uganda leased out the Maruzi Ranching Scheme to Uganda Livestock Industries Ltd for a period of 99 years.

However, as a result of the insurgency in Northern Uganda that started in the late 1980s, the business of Uganda Livestock Industries Limited was disrupt-ed, leading to the eventual collapse of the Ranching Scheme.

With the coming into force of the 1995 Constitution, and the subsequent en-actment of the Land Act Cap. 227, the land reverted back to the government of Uganda under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Industries.
Over the years, given the prevailing unrest within the region and the resultant internal displacement of the population, the ownership of the land became a matter of community concern.

Chuck Deome, the Manager at Hillside Agricultural Limited said the ban is meant to safeguard their plantations from destruction by animals.

He, however, said the company is working closely with local leaders to handle the matter.

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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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