The College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) in Collaboration with Michigan State University has embarked on upscaling the use of the Black Soldier Fly Larvae as a source of insect protein for animal production.
An awareness session was convened at the college on Monday 20th February 2023, attended by stakeholders that included the academia, entomology extension staff from peri-urban districts, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and the Centre for Insect Research and Development (CIRD).
The Black Soldier Fly larvae is known to be one of the most environmentally friendly sources of insect protein that is highly nutritious and cheap to rear making it a possible replacement of expensive animal protein based feed ingredients like mukene or silver fish.
During the project launch, it was explained that Black Soldier Fly Larvae farming was growing rapidly despite some challenges that include issues of safety and quality of the larvae produced from different farms, the nutritional content as well as the mixing ratios with other feed ingredients.
Dr. Amulen Deborah and Dr. Patrick Vudriko the respective Principal and Co -Investigators are working together with Prof. Eric Benbow and Dr. Jennifer Pechal from Michigan State University in implementing the USAID funded project namely; Scaling cost effective, safe and quality Black Soldier fly insect larvae enterprise for COVID-19 Livelihood resilience in Uganda. The project comes in to address some of the identified challenges in the Black Soldier Fly enterprise.
According to Dr. Amulen Deborah, the key outputs of the project include a Policy brief on the use of Black Soldier fly larvae in livestock value chains which will guide the policy formulation processes by the planners. She said the one-year project that is supporting a Masters’ Student on Veterinary Medicine will also come out with one formula for BSFL based diet for broiler chicken.
Dr. Amulen explained that in line with the Universities community outreach policy, the project will support training of 100 youth and women in BSFL startups and for sustainability purposes support the Centre for Insect Research and Development (CIRD) as a one stop knowledge center. In addition to strengthening the collaboration between Makerere and Michigan State University, Dr. Amulen explained that another output will be a scientific research paper within the scope of the objectives of the project.
The project isintended to assess the impact of COVID-19 on livestock feed protein source to map out actors in the BSFL value chains in Peri-Urban Kampala and to assess the quality and safety of BSF larvae reared. It is also intended to build the capacity of women and youth in small scale commercial BSFL farming in the Districts of Mpigi, Wakiso, Mukono Entebbe and Luweero.
The collaborating Institutions include Makerere University, Michigan State University and the Centre for Insect research and Development (CIRD), which has since 2019 piloted small-scale commercial BSFL farming under the leadership of the Principal Investigator on this project, Dr. Amulen. The major milestones achieved by CIRD in the pilot phase include setting up a small-scale BSFL unit producing one ton of BSFL weekly, supporting establishment of 100 BSF farming business, establishing market channels for both BSF equipment and breeding seeds such as eggs and pupae, as well as creating demand for dry BSFL among poultry and animal farmers.
In the course of implementing the project, entomologists from selected Districts will support the identification of farmers willing to start BSF farming and serve as focal point persons in the baseline study. The other planned activities include three field questionnaire surveys, seven training workshops for commercial BSL farming to be conducted at CIRD, Laboratory analysis of BSFL for nutritional content and safety, feeding experimentation and determining the performance of Black Soldier Fly Larvae-based feed in broiler chicken as well as a dissemination workshop.
Dr. Vudriko Patrick the Co-PI while giving his reflections on the BSFL enterprise pointed out the need to seriously consider sustainability and the economics of the enterprise, the alternative wastes and their supply chain management as well as the legal framework for the enterprise, in addition to the National technical capacity for BSF development at Ministry and Local Government levels as institutions mandated to undertake training.
Dr. Vudricko emphasized the need for education as a vehicle for knowledge expansion and human resource technical competence, noting that our education system lacks the technical competence, citing the limited content for BSFL training at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), The College of Natural Sciences (CONAS) and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).
He further emphasized the need for a product diversification as part of a holistic value chain development, product diversification, zero waste, not only looking at the larvae but considering maximizing revenue from all products. Other areas to focus he proposed, concerned product certification, determining who to call a breeder, and what it takes for one to qualify as one.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries was in attendance to address issues concerning establishing whether the relevant, laws and regulations were in place, as a condition for providing an enabling environment and ensuring the right standards in order to have the desired quality of products. MAAIF was also to give guidance regarding the existing technical capacity of the ministry and offer direction.
While officiating at the closing of the engagement, the Commissioner for Entomology in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Resources and Fisheries Mr. Lawrence Tusiime Muhangi noted that the Black Soldier Fly was a relatively new venture. ‘Apart from using the basic principles of entomology, we are all here to learn and the National Livestock Development Policy is the starting point for us all. Most of our participation is in bee keeping and my wish would be to advocate for skilling students at university’, said the Commissioner, affirming that the standards were not in place. He said the Ministry was aligning the Animal Disease Management Bill and that given the fact that the Black Soldier Fly was a biological organism, there was need for a training manual and standards to create a fair condition for all stakeholders, including development economists, the academic, the farmers and extension workers to participate.
He commended CoVAB for initiating the project and emphasized the need for the Ministry to consider other areas of entomology including the Black Soldier Fly since it was steadily getting onboard as a viable enterprise. ‘We need to check where we are in different areas of entomology. Communities are looking at entomologists to get solutions to the many challenges they face and the ministry needs to come in and support’, he said.
He encouraged Makerere University through the key departments responsible for basic entomology to carry out a campaign to ensure that the needed infrastructure is put in place, cognizant of the fact that there were few staff entomologists at the ministry. ‘Use friends, colleagues and contemporaries to push this agenda forward. I look at this as a salvation. These things are known in a small way but we need to think beyond what the entomologist can say’ he said while emphasizing the need for the academia to support to the Ministry on instituting the necessary polices and guidelines.
The commissioner encouraged the entomologists to ensure that there were demonstrations at the Districts and where they were not, have them started at their respective homes, and that with more orientation, more knowledge was to be gained in the management of the Black Soldier Fly enterprises.
In this project, the BSF value chain actors will be coordinated by the private sector (the Center for Insect Research and Development, CIRD) and regulated by the Department of Entomology, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry, and Fisheries.
Stakeholders to take on Electronic Rabies Surveillance using a One Health Approach in the control of Rabies
Stakeholders in the Rabies Elimination project in Uganda (eRabies) have intensified efforts aimed at the use of electronic Rabies Surveillance using a One Health approach in the efforts towards elimination of rabies in Uganda.
A two-day workshop was convened at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University from 28th-29th August 2023, during which the stakeholders deliberated on a number of proposals for the best applicable surveillance tools to address One Health concerns in the effort towards the elimination of Rabies.
‘The purpose of the meeting is to hear from various actors and see what works for us, to enable us collect information and have it shared in a sustained way with One Health as a key component’ said Prof. Clovice Kankya, the Head, Department of Biosecurity, Ecosystems and Veterinary Public Health at CoVAB, at the start of the meeting held in the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health.
Kankya noted that with one year of implementation to date, the eRabies project was progressing well drawing a lot of support from the implementing local Governments of Kyegegwa, Soroti and Kampala Capital City Authority that spearhead the community engagements and other related activities. He said the graduate fellows from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries supported by the project were also on schedule.
He said Rabies is a global challenge being a zoonotic disease affecting the entire world more so here in Africa where there is close interaction between the wild animals and the human population. The Uganda Wildlife Authority, he said, was brought on board specifically Queen Elizabeth National Park to address some of the challenges affecting people drawing from the wild animals.
The Deputy Principal CoVAB, Prof. James Acai Okwee, in his opening remarks noted through the eRabies project, Makerere University and the host CoVAB were consolidating efforts towards the control of rabies in Uganda. ‘In as much as Rabies is a killer 100%, it is also preventable 100%’ observed Prof. Acai, adding that Makerere University and CoVAB specifically have been involved in such efforts through filed activities, vaccinations and animal welfare programs aimed at the control of rabies. He said through research, such efforts were to be intensified from a scientifically informed point of view.
Prof. Sonja Hartnack, from the Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, one of the partners gave an overview of the project. She said the four-year project has seven different work packages while emphasizing that presently, the stakeholders were addressing work package one, that entails Surveillance systems and integrated bite case management. She noted that the communities were crucial in the rabies control efforts and specifically in identifying the barriers for rabies control through research interventions and the development of educational materials for awareness creation.
She made reference to the World organization for Animal Health (WOAH) recommended practices that points out that dog owners are clearly identified as one way through which the barriers to dog vaccination can be addressed in the communities and emphasized responsible dog ownership.
She said it was important to assess which vaccinations approaches are most successful in terms of vaccination coverage, whether there were static points vaccinations, or linked to institutions like Schools or other Veterinary activities or even human health related activities. She said through quantitative and qualitative research, the eRabies project was set to establish what works. She also pointed out the need to increase the laboratory capacity at regional levels as well as taking on rapid tests in the field.
Prof. Sonja Hartnack said the deliberations in the meeting were to inform the efforts towards having an integrated bite case management (IBCM) system by looking at different systems, picking out key data elements, reviewing the challenges of the existing processes for a proper One Health approach.
Dr. Andrew Kambugu, Director, Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) one of the key partners in the eRabies project extended appreciation to the Swiss Government and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) for the grant that is supporting the implementation of the activities. He referred to COVID-19, a Zoonotic disease that affected many people as having come from the contact between animals and humans. He said the model that would come out of the meeting was to be relevant to many. He emphasized the need for increased collaboration between different agencies in Africa, where he noted that many were working in silos. He affirmed that IDI was to give all relevant support needed in the eRabies project.
The deliberations in the workshop shared experiences from varied stakeholders that included the Infectious Diseases Institute experiences of Rabies Surveillance in West Nile region, the respective implementing Local Governments, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries.
Participants identified some of the challenges experienced in timely dog bites reporting that need to be addressed in the surveillance. They included late reporting by the victims, failure to capture data from the private Veterinary Medicine practitioners that handle a number of cases in the communities, omission of the wildlife Veterinarians in the reporting system and the little interaction between the Human Health practitioners and the Veterinarians, coupled with the limited data sharing avenues.
The eRabies project is implemented by Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) in collaboration with the Vetsuisse Faculties, Universities of Bern and Zurich from Switzerland. It is contributing to efforts towards elimination of Rabies by 2030.
UK-based Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas) seeks collaboration with CoVAB in Aquatic Animal Health
The College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity on 8th August 2023, hosted a team from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, an executive agency for the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Dr. Richard Paley and Mr. Andrew Wokorac Joseph of the Environment and Animal Health group were in the College courtesy of Dr. John Walakira from the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO). Their visit is aimed at forging collaboration and support diagnostic and research activities pertaining to aquatic animal health.
The team was welcome to the College by the Principal, Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine, represented by the Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Resources, Prof. Robert Tweyongyere. While extending appreciation for the upcoming collaboration, the Principal noted that Uganda is one of the main producers of fisheries products in Sub-Saharan Africa and it is the second largest foreign exchange earner for Uganda. He said the interventions in the collaboration were pertinent given the declining production that is also negatively affecting national and household income and food security which is being addressed by the Government of Uganda through promotion of aquaculture.
Prof. Mwiine highlighted some of the challenges affecting aquaculture that include lack of quality feed and seed as well as technical expertise. He said although fish diseases are yet to be considered a major challenge, with the advances in aquaculture, there is bound to be frequent disease outbreaks. He said anti-microbial resistance and drug residues were inevitable because in the process of managing fish disease, antibiotics are administered. Further he pointed out the limited knowledge and skills in fish health management which falls in the docket of veterinaries but few are well equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge.
He made reference to Makerere University’s vision of innovative teaching, learning and services responsive to national and global needs, and the strategic direction of enhancing and strengthening partnerships with industry, the community through multiple collaborations with universities and other research institutions regionally and globally.
The Principal informed the team that Makerere University offers comprehensive training programs in aquaculture, fisheries production and aquatic animal health at CoVAB and the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS). He said at CoVAB, research in aquatic animal health has expanded to cover core areas of biosecurity and ecosystem health following the one health approach. He emphasized the need for increased collaborative ties and networks with the private sector, research institutions, universities and technical agencies, working closely with the fish farmers.
He explained that at CoVAB, the two Schools synergistically offer training across the graduate and undergraduate programs. He highlighted some of the fisheries/aquaculture research projects ongoing that include Safe Fish that is investigating phages as alternatives to antibiotic use in fish management; Novel Feeds, that is developing a feed formulation for fish larvae; Bioconversion of Industrial waste products in Nile perch , Artificial Intelligence system to balance water quality and feed; Capacity Building in aquatic animal health and environmental health as well as probiotics for use on Tilapia and Nile Perch farms.
Dr. John Walakira from the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) noted that there was potential for a long-term relationship between CoVAB and NARO and urged the college to identify gaps that need to be filled in future in the aquaculture industry. He said the team was in the college to establish what it can do in the industry, noting that issues of diseases are recurrent and a preserve of the veterinarians. He noted that aquaculture animal health was growing very fast with over 2.5 billion fingerlings in the region and in the process, diseases are on the increase.
He said the team from Cefas was in the college to establish what was on ground for example the graduate courses as well as training for the practitioners in the industry. He said Africa has been without aquaculture related diseases but now they are getting reported and veterinarians called to take up the challenge. Because of the rich resources in Uganda, it’s time to train practitioners, he said, and that Makerere University especially CoVAB is a focal point especially in dealing with such diseases.
Dr. Richard Paley from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquatic Science (Cefas) while briefing the meeting said Cefas is an International Centre of Excellence involved in the maintenance of the health of wild and farmed seafood to minimize loss and maximize food security. He said as a world leader in marine science and technology, Cefas collects, manages and interprets data on the aquatic environment, biodiversity and fisheries. He their Weymouth lab has over 1100 scientists dedicated to aquatic health bringing together all the necessary disciplines that among many include disease inspection, diagnosis, research and development, microbiology, virology and many more.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) designated Cefas as the WOAH Collaborating Centre for Emerging Aquatic Animal Diseases. He said their aim is to function as a global resource for health and disease research, diagnostics, pathogen detection and description, and knowledge sharing associated with aquatic animals. The meeting was attended among others by the Assoc. Prof. Jesca Nakavuma who is also undertaking research in Safe Fish that is investigating phages as alternatives to antibiotic use in fish management, as well as Veterinary medicine students.
COVAB capacity building engagement on Human Capital Development in Science, Technology, and Innovation Industrialization
The College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-security (COVAB) Human Capital Development Project held a five-day capacity building training at Esella Hotel, Kira to equip the project’s staff and protégé with knowledge and skills in product value chain industrialization.
During the workshop which ran from 24th to 28th July 2023 staff and Protégé were imparted with knowledge on commercialization of an innovative product, strategic financial management, strategic planning and management, business planning, policy formulation and management.
At the opening ceremony, the Superintendent of Industrial Value Chains Development, Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI)- Office of the President, Dr. Cosmas Mwikirize pointed out that people were the most important in the process of development.
“In the development tree, people are the most important ingredient to development. No country can be better than the quality of its human resource,” said Dr. Mwikirize, adding that the mentorship model is important given that it gives opportunity to people to develop technologies, and hence no need to look for jobs.”
He further encouraged participants to embrace Science, Technology, and Innovation because of its big contribution to national GDP. “STI is the way out, and if you want a good place to invest your money, look at your students who have good ideas and start pulling resources. Invest in your people’s ideas and you will not go wrong,” said Dr. Mwikirize.
The protégés who participated in the workshop were all spread under STI Value Chain Economies which include the engineering economy, mobility, beauty and apparel, the digital economy, Agro security and the pathogenic economy.
In his welcome remarks, the Principal for the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine appreciated government support towards research and mentorship initiatives. “We thank the Government of Uganda for the support towards research and innovation through funding several projects, and for equipping the University with resources and laboratories for quality research,” said Prof. Mwiine.
Prof. Mwiine further emphasized the benefits of research, stating that nations need research to evolve. Further, he emphasized that research and innovation is the way through whcih the University gives back to society.
The Human Capital Development Project is championed by Dr. Claire Mack Mugasa, who is the Principal Investigator of this initiative. Dr. Mugasa highlighted the need for equipping scientists, researchers and innovators with specialized techniques which is a critical aspect in national development and industrialization.
“We have our scientists and innovators working separately and are not in touch with one another in their production lines, but with this mentorship programme, we are ensuring that the scientists have specialized skills, techniques, and knowledge that is key in industrialization,” said Dr. Mugasa, adding that, “with some amount of redirection and orientation, the scientists will be brought together in a foundry network.”
The Human Capital Development Initiative is funded by the Government of Uganda through Science, Technology, and Innovation-Office of the President.
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