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Agriculture & Environment

Mak Holds 2nd Policy Seminar on Rural Development

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With support from the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) on 15th December 2020 held the 2nd policy seminar on Rural Development.

The seminar held at the school of Food Technology Nutrition and Bio-engineering was conducted under the topic; Agro Industrialisation in the context of Rural Development in Uganda.

Presided over by the former Minister of Agriculture Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa, the seminar was attended by Researchers, policy makers and advisors across the country. It was moderated by the Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, with participants attending both physically and virtually.

The presenters included Martin Fowler the Senior Agricultural Adviser USAID Uganda and Jacob Rauschendorfer the Country economist Bank of Uganda also at the International Growth Centre.

While Making a presentation titled, The current status, future prospects and possible solutions to pressing challenges both Martin Fowler and Jacob Rauschendorfer observed that COVID-19 had had a great impact on Uganda despite the fact that agriculture was declared an essential service with so much uninterrupted.

According to the presentation, during the period, there has been a reduction in turnover and sales of 30% for seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, veterinary drugs, whereas raw materials’ supply to processors from out-growers were negatively affected.

The presentation also indicated that Lack of data on COVID-19’s impacted on SMEs, “they are more generally clear that they are a critical force in the economy but remain vulnerable”

The presentation also recommended focus on value chain observing an Urgent need to rationalise and prioritise the value-chains that are to form the focus of future national agro-industrialization efforts.

They also recommended that governments’ role in fostering agro-industrial sector growth needs to be defined and respected to ensure increased budgetary support required for a more enabling environment including, electricity grid expansion, land tenure security among others.

While officiating at the seminar, the former Minister of Agriculture Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa called for coordination of all the policies related to Agriculture along the value chain. He observed the need to increase production, marketing and processing noting that increasing productivity requires concentrated areas of production in order to ease marketing.

“We need to invest in research, extension, water for production, marketing and processing, “he said.

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Agriculture & Environment

Ugandans Consume Less Meat than Recommended-Livestock Experts

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The SUPPF-L project Principal Investigator (PI) Makerere University, Assoc. Prof. Denis Mpairwe gestures during the training of livestock farmers at MUARIK.

By Jane Anyango

Experts in livestock and beef production have expressed concerns over the low levels of Uganda’s consumption of meat saying, there is a clear need to produce more meat, beef in particular, if the country is not to import to meet the demand.

The low consumption rate for meat among Ugandans is attributed to the deficit in meat production, poor beef quality and  lengthy period of raising  and feeding animals to reach the market and slaughter age.

To increase meat production cattle beef producers  need to adopt intensive animal husbandry practices and  supplementary  feeding technologies to guarantee  proper feeding, nutrition,  and faster growth.

Experts say, Uganda has 14.2 million cattle, 16 million goats, 4.5 million sheep and 47.6 million poultry. The country also has 4.1 million pigs plus some donkeys and camels-all having a biomass equivalent of 14.7 million Tropical Livestock Units (TLU) dominated by cattle (77%).

The project Principal Investigator (PI) Makerere University, Associate Professor Denis Mpairwe said Uganda‘s 11.9m cattle population is raised for meat in four broad production systems.  Pastoral (41% of cattle) contributing 19% of farm income, Agro-pastoral (49% of cattle) contributing 12% of farm income, Ranches (8% of cattle)  contributing 45% of farm income and Semi-intensive production system (2% of cattle ) contributing to  75% of farm income.

Professor  Mpairwe however noted that competition for land, feed and water resources is forcing  more migratory cattle owners to sedentarize. Depending on the local conditions like climate, infrastructure, land availability, and local traditions, Prof. Mpairwe identified beef cattle husbandry systems in the country.

The extensive systems comprising the pastoral, agro pastoral and ranching systems form the greatest concentration of beef cattle in Uganda but with low input low output with the common practice of leaving animals to survive by nature.

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Agriculture & Environment

Prolonged use of Traditional Medicines in Malaria Treatment Damages Body Tissues-Study

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A screenshot of the DESAT research dissemination by Makerere University researchers on 16th June 2021 showing; Vernomia amygdalina (Muluswa), Warbugia ugandensis (Atiko) and Abrus precatorius (Osito) species used to treat malaria in Tororo district, Eastern Uganda.

By Jane Anyango

A study funded by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) has found that prolonged use of herbal medicines affects body organs.

Researchers recommend that traditional medicines should not be used for more than 14 days. The need for regulation and strengthening quality assurance along the value chain to reduce risks associated with the use of herbal medicines has been emphasized.

This was revealed during the virtual research dissemination workshop of the RIF 1/CAES/025 project titled, “Development of   Safe and Efficacious Anti-Malarial drug from Traditional Medicine (DESAT)” on 16th June 2021.

DESAT is an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research project led by Prof. John Steven Tabuti – an ethnobotanist from Makerere University’s Department of Environmental Management  in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Co investigators are Dr. Alice Nabatanzi  from the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Cissy Nambejja, Senior Research Officer, Ministry of Health, Natural Chemotherapeutics Research institute, Prof.  Paul Waako, Vice Chancellor  Busitema University and Micheal R Mutyaba, Manager  Traditional and Complementary Medicine,  National Drug Authority. Other team members from CoNAS are Stanley Ofwono (Laboratory Technician), Diana Sitenda (Student) and  Olivia Maganyi (Para taxonomist).

Presenting the project results, the   Principal Investigator   Prof. John Steven Tabuti said the project undertook research in Tororo district and gathered data to determine the commonly used plant material for the treatment  of malaria  and the safety profiles of selected  species.

“We found through this study that the three species that we investigated were reasonably safe to use in a period of 14 days. Beyond 14 days, we have observed some negative impacts on the organs of the animals.  

One of the effects was on the kidney, another, was a clot in the stomach, and there was also some ulcers in the stomach, and death of some cells in the liver. This suggests that these traditional herbs are not safe. Some of the results have not yet come back, which should tell us if we should be very conscious.

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Agriculture & Environment

Livestock farmers equipped on Climate-Smart Supplementary Feeding Technologies

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Farmers participate in the silage making process as part of the two-week EU-funded Promote Supplementary Feeding (SUPPL-F) project.

By Jane Anyango

Livestock farmers from the ten districts within Disease Control zones 1 and 2 of the cattle corridor of Isingiro, Masindi, Kiruhura, Lyantonde, Mubende, Kibaale, Nakaseke, Kyakyanzi, Masindi, Kiryadongo and Nakasongola  have undergone a two weeks intensive hands on training  on the production of climate smart supplementary feeding to increase beef production in Uganda.

The training was organized under the Promote Supplementary Feeding (SUPPL-F) project with the collaboration of Robran Holdings Limited (RHL), the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), The Green Elephant (TGE), the Livestock Development Program (LDF) and Orchid House Farm Nakasongola.

Promote Supplementary Feeding project project is part of a European Union (EU) grant (under the 11th European Development Fund) extended to the Government of Uganda to a programme known as “Developing a Market-Oriented and Environmentally Sustainable Beef Meat Industry in Uganda (MOBIP)”. Implemented by the Directorate of Animal Resources (DAR) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

 The programme awarded Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and her six partners to implement a EUR 715,299 focusing on farmers’ access to and utilization of supplementary feeds for purposes of fattening animals for the Market.

The trainees included   farm managers of large-scale beef farmers (referred to as Nucleus farmers which are to be demonstration farms) linked to the implementation of the PSFU MOBIP project. The participants also included Trainers of Trainers (TOTS) mainly Small – scale beef producers and women and youth entrepreneurs recruited by the project and currently engaged in similar or related activities in the participating districts.

The intention of this training is to make sure that the TOTs and Farm managers are well equipped to   act as ambassadors to pass on the knowledge and skills to small – holder farmers for use in their respective districts thus promoting supplementary feeding.

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