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Nomadism must stop, says minister Ssempijja

Agriculture minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja says normadism must stop in Uganda. Photo by Irene Abalo.

GULU–The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has issued a stun warning that nomadism in Uganda must stop because it does not improve on the quality of animals for commercial purposes.

While addressing district leaders, UPDF generals and pastoralists commonly known as Balaalo, Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja said nomadism was ancient and does not match the current demand for cattle products.

“In Botswana, a cow can weigh 200kgs and more in two years yet inUganda, it takes more than six years. With this when shall Uganda ever move towards exporting meat or other dairy products at commercial level?” the minister asked.

He said that if any Ugandan wants to rear animals, they must buy land and use modern techniques of rearing quality animals whose products can contribute towards the economic development of the country.

Currently, pastoralists hire land from land owners for a specific period of time and move after their agreement expires or they need land with greener pasture.

“The last warning to pastoralists, nomadism must stop. If you want animal husbandry, follow modern and up to date procedures. Buy land and plan well. You don’t need to roam around the whole country looking for pasture, I hear some of them are crossing to South Sudan,” Minister Ssempijja said.

He said people should be educated to adopt modern animal husbandry to benefit and upgrade their lives.

“This is your wealth and that of the country too. Uganda has about 14million cattle but cannot even export meat to other countries because we can’t meet the standard. We don’t feed them well. Those people demand to eat meat not more than two years. Our cows take six years to reach about 600kgs,” the minister explained.

He also noted that science has made cattle rearing more commercially viable for those who are willing to invest in the animals.

“People must be educated to stop the primitive methods of cattle keeping. We can’t continue to live like our ancestors. We have enough artificial insemination semen and scientists now have semen to produce females only so that you cattle can multiply faster and give other dairy products as well.”

On October 24, 2017, President Museveni issued a directive to the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry to ensure that all the Balaalo leave Northern Uganda with their cattle. `

Gulu district chairman Martin Ojara Mapenduzi had earlier warned that if the Balaalo do not leave the community where their cattle were destroying crops and causing conflicts among families, the region would experience famine and insecurity.

A number of allegations had arisen from the community that the nomads have guns and use them to intimidate the locals.

InPalaro sub-county, Gulu RDC Capt. Santos Okot Lapolo heard allegations from the community during a dialogue to mediate between the Balaalo and the community that the Balaalo illegally possess guns and they guard cattle belonging to UPDF generals.

Brig. Emmanuel Kanyesigye, Gulu 4th Division Commander, however, during a local radio talkshow this morning, said the allegations against UPDF generals using their ranks and positions for private business will be investigated by their intelligence.

“They are there at individual levels and incase people are complaining, there are no compromises in this case. The reports are there and whoever is got doing work contrary to what the gun should be used for, that is now the work of intelligence. They shall be investigated.”

He also added that the presidential directive must be implemented and the Balaalo must leave Northern Uganda.
The Minister of Agriculture together with Gulu district Security Committees and other leaders agreed yesterday that the Balaalo must leave before the March 15, 2018 after vaccination of their cattle too avoid animal disease spreading in areas as they move.

Currently, there is an outbreak of food and mouth disease in 27 districts and the government is in the process of vaccinating over 150,000 cattle in Northern Uganda and about 100,000 shall then leave the region back to where the pastoralists brought them from.

The pastoralists in Northern Uganda are mainly from Kyankwanzi, Kiryandongo, Luwero and Bushenyi, among others.

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