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Livestock farmers fault government on mass vaccination

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By WILSON KUTAMBA & AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA

A section of livestock farmers in Rakai, Lyantonde, Sembabule, Kyotera and Kiruhura districts have accused government of selectively carrying out mass vaccination of cattle against the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

They claim the exercise, which kicked off in March, is being done in a few parishes.
In February, Cabinet approved a supplementary budget of Shs14.6b to procure FMD vaccines for all livestock across the country.

However, Mr Matthias Lubowa, a livestock farmer in Ntuusi Sub-county, Sembabule District, said only a few areas in the area have been considered.

“Vaccination was carried out in Mitima Parish. We wonder whether that was mass vaccination as promised by government,” Mr Lubowa told Daily Monitor on Wednesday.

Mr Robert Kanyete, the chairperson Nyekundire Farmers’ Association in Kyalulangira Sub-county Rakai District, said the exercise had not yet started in the area yet their cattle is prone to the viral disease during the rainy season.

“We appeal to government to fulfil their promise before we suffer an outbreak. Our prayer is to have our animals vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said.

The disease, which affects cows, goats and sheep, is spread through cow dung, milk, meat and air.
Mr Kanyete said farmers are also concerned about the vaccination fee yet the exercise is supposed to be free.

“Whenever they conduct vaccination in our district, they charge Shs1,000 per cow yet the exercise is fully paid for by government,” he said.

Mr Theodore Ssekikubo, the Lwemiyaga County MP, said many farmers were still waiting for the vaccine.
“Our district has been under quarantine since August last year. In the past two months, they have carried out vaccination in only one sub-county,” he said.
The MP was arrested in January for allegedly defying a livestock quarantine.

Lack of resources
However, Dr Angelo Ssali, the district veterinary officer, said they only received a consignment of vaccines for one affected parish.

“We cannot roll out mass vaccination in the district because we do not have the resources to do so, we received only 15,000 FMD vaccine doses for only one parish,” he said.

Dr Godfrey Kimbugwe, his Kyotera counterpart, said they received 15,000 vaccine doses against 200,000 head of cattle in the district.

“The doses we received cannot even cover 25 per cent of the livestock we have. We have decided to carry out strategic vaccination only in villages near the Uganda–Tanzania border,” Dr Kimbugwe said.

The situation is not any different in Lyantonde and Kiruhura districts.
Dr Ronald Bameka, the Lyantonde District veterinary officer, said the doses they received cover less than 5 per cent of the livestock population.

“Lyantonde has individual farmers with large herds of cattle and the vaccine doses received were very few. The ministry [of Agriculture] should consider sending more,” he said.

His Kiruhura counterpart, Dr Grace Asiimwe, advised the ministry to consider the population of livestock in a district before dispatching vaccines because some have overwhelming number of animals.

“We are receiving criticism from farmers questioning the criteria used in carrying out ring vaccination, saying FMD affects all of them,” he said.

Dr Kaddu Nsubuga, the Gomba District veterinary officer, said they received only 15,000 doses yet they have 130,000 head of cattle.

Government speaks out

Mr Bright Rwamirama, the State Minister for Animal Industry, admitted the problem, saying although they needed 3.5 million vaccine doses only 2 million will be procured.

“Uganda has 15 million head of cattle and the procured vaccines are not enough, but we prioritised hotspots and these included parts of central, south-west and north east regions,” he said.

He said some 500,000 out of the procured 2,000,350 FMD vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the country before end of this month. Mr Rwamirama said when the exercise is completed, the quarantine will be lifted in Sembabule, Kiruhura, Gomba, Nakasongola and Nakaseke districts.

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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