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Veterinary doctors warn on rushed MAAIF livestock census



UVA: Focus should be on containing diseases at this point in time

Nakasongola, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The national association of veterinary doctors of Uganda (UVA) have advised the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry not to rush to conduct a livestock census without their input.

In a statement, they said a hurriedly held census will be a waste of money and produce distorted results that will not be beneficial to improving standards in the sector. The Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA) also warned about dangers of the farther spread of Foot and Mouth Disease by enumerators walking around the whole country.

“We are currently still battling out with the notorious Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) that has devastated our national herd. The solutions to FMD are yet to be resolved and instituted,” UVA President Dr Daniel Kasibule wrote to the census implementing agency Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

“We have notably realized that attention bas been given to SOPs ( Standard Operation Procedures) of COVID-19 but none to this livestock enigma. Other existing livestock epidemics like African Swine Fever (ASF), New Castle Disease (NCD) and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) should also be considered while drawing the SOPs,” Kasibule wrote.

The State Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Bright Rwamirama early this month announced that The National Livestock Census, 2021 will be conducted from next week,  May 17 to 28. It is planned to be conducted  in all four cattle corridor areas of Western, Eastern, Central and Northern Uganda.

The Minister said the National Livestock Census will ascertain a complete count of the country’s livestock and its associated characteristics. The last Livestock census was conducted in 2008 & revealed that about 4.5 million households (70.8%) rear at least one kind of livestock or poultry in Uganda.

Training of census supervisors starts

Training for National Livestock Census supervisors and enumerators is already underway, but UVA said the scope of training is insufficient for an exercise like this.

“Quality information that will be generated requires a minimum level of training that can understand production systems, different breeds, farm infrastructures, aspects of management of agricultural holdings disaggregated by sex etc. This will definitely require personal with higher animal related training, if not, will need training beyond the provided one week,” wrote Dr Kasibule.

A total of 32,486 Enumeration Areas (EAs) or villages will be covered in the whole country, 23,443 EAs in the 560 cattle corridor sub-counties while 9,043 EAs will be sampled & enumerated from the 961 non-cattle corridor sub-counties”

Kasibule also added that, ” It should be appreciated that the animal health workers understand the locations of the formers and their enterprises better; they are also in most cases already equipped with transport. They also easily appreciate the technical details of the census and their being end users of the generated information motivates them to gather accurate data.”

UVA warned that the census campaign has mainly been on social media, yet many veterinarians and ordinary farmers aren’t complaint to this mode of communication.

They advised that poultry, rabbits and piggery be included in the census and all cattle corridors be considered.

We appreciated the issue of financial constraint leading into some districts conducting total census (Cattle corridor) while others do enumeration area surveys. However many catttle districts have been omitted for example Kayunga, Buyende and Kamuli. The paradigm shift in farming due to population increase leading to increase in poultry, rabbits and piggery should be considered. Total counts of these especially in leading districts like Kampala, Mukono, Wakiso, Masaka and Mpigi need to be considered.

Kasibule concluded his letter by saying, “We pray that these concerns amongst others be considered as urgent for the smooth progress of this vital exercise.”

Another frustrated veterinary doctor, best illustrated the sector’s frustration by saying, “To us livestock specialists we want accurate and dependable statistics . This is the only chance for this marginalized sector.”

The Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA) is a Civil Society Organization of over 1,223 members with a mission of promoting professionalism, welfare and interests of members to foster better livestock service delivery.

Original Source: INDEPENDENT.CO.UG


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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