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Livestock farmers fault government on mass vaccination




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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Lack of Agronomists worries grape farmers in Mbarara



Grape farmers in Mbarara are concerned that they are earning less from the crop due to the absence of an agronomist to offer expertise on the processes for growing and harvesting the crop.

There are more than 200 grape farmers in Ibaare, Nyamatojo and Nyakayojo, all in the South Division of Mbarara City, where more than three hills are fully covered with the crop. They are mainly planting Muscat and Karmen, which thrive well in semi-arid areas.

But the farmers said that they are growing the crop without clear information on the ideal varieties of grapes grown in Uganda, and knowledge of soil management, site preparation, planting, pruning, pest and disease control, fertilizer application as well as harvesting.

By nature of their work, agronomists work with farmers to help them grow the best possible crops, based on their extensive knowledge of chemistry, biology, economics, earth science, ecology, and genetics. They usually conduct experiments to develop the best methods for increasing the quality and production of crops and develop methods for protecting crops from weeds, pests, and harsh climates.

Alex Asiimwe, the Chairperson of Mbarara Grape Farmers Cooperative Limited said that without a specialist in the region, many of them are left to gamble with the crop. Often, he says, they struggle to manage the spread of pests in grape plantations.

James Mugabi, a grape farmer said he once lost more than 25 tons of grapes to fungus, which he didn’t know and failed to get the best drug. He narrates that once the crop has been attacked by either a pest or disease, the entire plantation is destroyed.

Allan Namanya, a grapes farmer from Katojo said the absence of an agronomist is costing them a lot since grapes are considered the most lucrative crop at the moment. He says that a kilogram of grapes costs between 2,500 and 3,000 Shillings and a bottle of wine costs 20,000, yet it can even cost much higher than this if they are advised on the right farming practices.

Mbarara city Agricultural Officer, Vincent Mugabi, said that the department also has a shortage of personnel knowledgeable about the relatively new crop for the area. He wants the government to consider taking them for training to acquire knowledge.

Grapes are harvested twice a year, in April/May and November/December seasons. They were introduced in Mbarara at Nyamitanga hill the Catholic seat by missionaries in the 1960s.

Original Source: URA via The Independent

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Farmers in Napak want security forces deployed in gardens



A section of farmers in Napak District is demanding for the deployment of security personnel in gardens to prevent attacks by suspected Karamojong warriors.

This follows a message that was sent to one of the phones belonging to the community member in Nabwal sub county threatening people to stop cultivation or else their cattle will be stolen. Suspected warriors have also been dropping leaflets in the villages warning farmers of possible attacks in case they risk going to cultivate in their gardens.

Robert Koryang, a resident of Lotome trading center, says that they are worried of going to their farm gardens which are far away from their home because of threats from the cattle raiders.

Koryang said the warriors are still hunting for cattle and they see the farming season as an opportunity to target farmers who use oxen for ploughing.

He observed that the persistent insecurity in the region frustrated their efforts to cultivate last year leading to a hunger crisis.

Judith Anyakun, another farmer recalls that early last year a suspected raider chased them out of their farms before making off with four oxen that were used for ploughing.

She suggested that the security forces should be deployed in their settlements nearer to the fields so that they are able to respond to any attack that may occur during farm activities.

John Paul Kodet, the LCV Chairperson for Napak, says that they are taking the threats seriously because the warriors have been issuing warnings to the communities before attacking.

Kodet said they have distributed seeds to the farmers but he is skeptical if communities shall be able to cultivate due to threats from suspected warriors.

He noted that some villages in the sub-counties of Lopei, Lokopo, and Lotome are very distant from the military installations and this puts them at high risk of being attacked.

Kodet appealed to the government to tighten security in the targeted areas such that people will be able to cultivate without fear.

Denis Okori, the Napak Resident District Commissioner said that the security forces already have the intelligence about the planned attacks and measures have been put in place to protect the communities.

Okori said they have designed strategic plans on how the deployment will be conducted and therefore farmers should not get worried because the government is trying everything possible to ensure there is peace.

He also confirmed receipt of the phone used for sending threats and it has been taken to the Internal Security Organization for tracking.

Okori urged the communities not to worry but instead clear the gardens for farming in order to fight hunger in the families as security does its part to protect them.

Last year, the residents of Napak district suspended the use of oxen for ploughing over fears of being attacked by suspected warriors. The cattle were only kept from the confined kraals and only released during the day for grazing, and returned in the evening when the army took responsibility for keeping them.

Original Source: URN via The Independent

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Mbarara struggling to contain Rift Valley Fever, no livestock quarantine yet



The government is reluctant at imposing the livestock quarantine on Mbarara despite registering five confirmed cases of death among humans resulting from Rift Valley Fever, the Resident District Commissioner, Emmy Turyabagyenyi Kateera has revealed.

According to Kateera , when they informed the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries about the outbreak, they deployed a team on the ground to manage the situation. Mbarara District Veterinary Officer, Andrew Bakashaba, says that registered fifty cows infected by Rift Valley Fever in Rwanyamahembe Sub County on different farms.

He, however, says that they are currently managing the situation through sensitization. Bakashaba has warned residents against eating meat from animals that have died on their own, noting that Rift Valley Fever is only transmitted from animals to humans through infected meat.

He has also asked people to always watch out for meat that has a veterinary medical stamp as proof that it’s been tested and found to be clean. Turyabagyenyi said that they have directed extension workers to hold engagement and sensitization meetings with farmers and livestock traders on how to do self-preservation on their farms and the movement of animals.

PHOTO: The Jenner Institute

He said they asked the Ministry of Agriculture to hold on imposing a quarantine as they monitor the situation on the ground noting that if the situation goes out of hand they would be left without any choice but to announce the quarantine.

He says they have deployed veterinary doctors at all known slaughter slabs and asked them to double-check the meat before and after it is delivered to butchers.  Dr. Richard Atuhairwe, the in-charge of Bwizibwera Health Centre IV, says that the disease was detected among 30 people, and results from Uganda Virus Research Institute returned positive.  He says that five of the thirty have since died.

Rift Valley Fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever that is most commonly seen in domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats and can also cause illness in people. It is caused by the Rift Valley Virus. Meanwhile, a Quarantine has been imposed on Byembogo Village in Nyabisirira Town Council after a case of foot and mouth disease was confirmed on one farm.

Turyabagyenyi says a farm belonging to one Mr. Mungonya with over 1500 cattle had been stopped from sending out cattle and animal products like milk from the farm. He says that they have also temporarily closed the Kyeshema livestock market that is shared between Kiruhura and Mbarara districts noting that Kiruhura had last week closed its side.

He says they are now moving to vaccinate all animals in the village as they monitor the situation.

Original Source: URN via  The independent

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