MOROTO – The Government of Uganda in partnership with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Moroto District Local Government CARITAS and VSF Belgium have vaccinated thousands of livestock in Karamoja region against transboundary animal diseases.
Diseases vaccinated against were PPR, Goat pox, FMD CBPP and CCPP. Moroto alone has an estimated 813,079 livestock, 75,278 of which were vaccinated.
Karamoja has over the years experienced widespread crop failure rates with little to no hope of securing food security, making the livestock their best alternative.
Their land being communally owned, it was established that as livestock draw closer to watering and grazing areas during the dry season, they also come along with diseases that they may have acquired from their places of origin and return to wet season grazing areas with a mixture of diseases acquired from their interaction during the dry season. The diseases acquired vary from waterborne diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Contagious Bovine Pleural Pneumonia to Tick Borne Diseases, among others, which pose threat to animal health, production and productivity, and subsequently adversely affects household food and livelihood security, increasing vulnerability of pastoralists to shocks due to their reduced ability to cope using available resources
The State Minister for Animal Industry, Dr. Rwamirama Bright early this week headed a team of veterinary experts and FAO to the region on a mission to save the herd from diseases and provide of very vital vaccine for transboundary diseases that are affecting the region.
The team demonstrated to the farmers using acaricide which contains a chemical that not only kills ticks but also tsetse flies.
“We want you to always use the same acaracide when you are going to spray your herd because you kill the ticks but as the cow moves around, any tsetse fly that bites the cow dies. That will save us from the disease of trypanosomiasis and sleeping sickness in human beings,” said the minister.
The minister revealed that they have been vaccinating since 2020, “because as long as our neighbors are not doing the same, we have to continue doing it.”
Rwamirama noted that they intended to collect information from the farmers on the challenges affecting them so that they could address them appropriately.
“We are going to come back and make sure you have water for your livestock so that you limit unnecessary movement of livestock which limits disease spread. We want also to introduce cows that produce bigger beef and milk. So we are going to establish three government demonstration farms in Karamoja region”.
On the transition to new breeds, the minister decried the tortoise move – blaming rustling which has been a common vice in the region for long but also the NGOs which he said are not helping at all.
“They have been here, they’re interested in handouts instead of empowering our people and it’s getting us into a problem. Up to now, some areas are food insecure. So we need to change the mindset of the people, we are talking to the NGO World that they need to change the approach if they are to work with us, they must fit into government programs so that we empower these communities to be on their own. Karamoja is not a very barren land as one would imagine, the soils are fertile.”
Dr. Bessong Willington – FAO’s head of ECTAD Programme re-echoed their mission of working very hard to ensure that people have food security. He said that livestock assets are very important, especially for Karamoja community where the ecosystem is a little bit fragile.
“So, diseases that can be transmitted from one boundary to another are problematic mostly where the government is making efforts to make these animals contribute to the economy of the country.”
He noted that the Government’s efforts to transition farmers to commercial farming will trigger Ugandans to aspire to export their products since there is always strong demand internationally.
“If they must go international, they must meet certain standards – this is where transboundary disease control becomes very important. FAO is providing specific support to this community, to build strong capacities to prevent any risks from happening.”
Dr. Anna Rose Ademun Okurut – Commissioner in charge of animal health at the Ministry of Agriculture said that when livestock is healthy, the nation and the region in particular are food secure.
She decried the high impact of diseases which not only reduce milk production and meat quality but also kill animals.
The reason why they vaccinate annually, she said is because it is the vaccine is designed to protect the animal for one year.
“We also know that some animals like goats are short-lived, so if you vaccinated two years ago, today you are talking about a different population.”
Dr. Okino Moses Andrew District Veterinary Officer, Moroto noted that most animals had migrated far away in search of pasture and water and accessing them required pitching camp in various locations to ensure good coverage of the vaccination exercise which was a big challenge.
He also reported that some areas where animals had migrated to as Kobebe and Naput, lacked cattle crushes and some areas were inaccessible due to fear of insecurity which affected the exercise.
Other challenges in general included;
-Inadequate knowledge in livestock production technologies/ methods- –lack of capital–
–Quality of Breeds vis-à-vis production objective-
Inadequate knowledge and skills in marketing
—Lack of Transport/ finances
-Lack of entrepreneurship skills and knowledge
-Lack of knowledge on available external markets in the entire livestock value chain–
-Lack of equipment
-Lack of knowledge and skills in value addition in the livestock value
-Inadequate quantity/ quality of inputs e.g. maize grain-
- Lack of Storage facilities prior to or after processing eg. for inputs like maize grain
The farmers want working in partnership and working through one health approach to be promoted,
Harmonisation of institutional policies and working through a food security platform should be encouraged, and
New Community Animal Health Workers need to be trained or the active ones refreshed.
Also, farmers requested the dipping system as the most effective.