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Veterinary & Biosecurity

The Black Soldier Fly Insect Larvae Enterprise for COVID-19 Livelihood Resilience Project Launched at CoVAB

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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).

L-R: Commissioner Entomology MAAIF, Mr. Lawrence Tusiime Muhangi, Dr. Amulen Deborah, Prof. Eric Benbow, Prof. Acai Okwee and Dr. Vudriko Patrick interact at the launch event.
L-R: Commissioner Entomology MAAIF, Mr. Lawrence Tusiime Muhangi, Dr. Amulen Deborah, Prof. Eric Benbow, Prof. Acai Okwee and Dr. Vudriko Patrick interact at the launch event.

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.

Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Amulen Deborah addresses the participants.
Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Amulen Deborah addresses the participants.

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.

L-R: PI, Dr. Amulen Deborah, Deputy Principal CoVAB Prof. Acai Okwee and Prof. Eric Benbow from Michigan State University.
L-R: PI, Dr. Amulen Deborah, Deputy Principal CoVAB Prof. Acai Okwee and Prof. Eric Benbow from Michigan State University.

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.

Participants listen attentively to proceedings at the Black Soldier Fly Insect Larvae Enterprise for COVID-19 Livelihood Resilience Project Launch.
Participants listen attentively to proceedings at the Black Soldier Fly Insect Larvae Enterprise for COVID-19 Livelihood Resilience Project Launch.

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.

Participants listen attentively to the proceedings.
Participants listen attentively to the proceedings.

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).

Co-PI, Dr. Patrick Vudriko makes his submission.
Co-PI, Dr. Patrick Vudriko makes his submission.

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.

The Commissioner Entomology MAAIF, Mr. Lawrence Tusiime Muhangi (R) addresses participants.
The Commissioner Entomology MAAIF, Mr. Lawrence Tusiime Muhangi (R) addresses participants.

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.

Participants attend the project launch event at CoVAB.
Participants attend the project launch event at CoVAB.

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.

Veterinary & Biosecurity

Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee Visits Production Site in Namanve

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Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Waikiso Uganda, East Africa.

The Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visited Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024 to review the advancements in the Anti-tick vaccine project, particularly focusing on the progress in the establishment of the vaccine production line at Alfasan Uganda Limited. This visit signifies a significant milestone in the ongoing partnership between Makerere University and Alfasan, as they work together towards the creation of a successful Anti-Tick vaccine.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the Anti-Tick Vaccine Project, Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa welcomed the team and gave a brief overview of the project’s operations. She highlighted Alfasan’s expertise in manufacturing veterinary and human drugs and the suggestion by H.E, the President of Uganda gave in view of the collaboration between Alfasan and Makerere University for the production of the Anti-Tick vaccine. The PI assured team that Alfasan was fully equipped to develop the vaccine in  adherence with the standards set by the National Drug Authority.

Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa, PI of the Anti-Tick Vaccine showing the Committee some of the verification equipment at Alfasan. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa, PI of the Anti-Tick Vaccine showing the Committee some of the verification equipment at Alfasan.

The Managing Director of Alfasan, Dr. Stephen Birungi said he was delighted to work with Makerere University, where he once studied at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB). He said a successful collaboration was key in ensuring further advancements and innovations in the field of veterinary medicine.

The Chairperson of Makerere University’s Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Steering Committee, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe emphasized the national significance of the project, and that it was catered for in the national budget. He outlined the division of equipment between Makerere University and Alfasan, stressing the importance of the visit to assess the progress at the Anti-Tick Vaccine production site in Namanve.

The Chairperson of Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee, who is also the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Finance and Administration, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, together with the CoVAB Principal Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine took a guided tour around the Vaccine Production Facility. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
The Chairperson of Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee, who is also the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Finance and Administration, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, together with the CoVAB Principal Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine took a guided tour around the Vaccine Production Facility.

The facility Pharmacist at Alfasan, Mr. Ivan Kafeero provided a brief history of the company, highlighting its transformation from an international collaboration to a prominent private entity in Uganda. The collaboration between Alfasan and Makerere University resulted in the joint production of a laboratory experimental vaccine in 2022, necessitating the facility’s upgrade to accommodate vaccine production alongside pharmaceuticals.

During the tour of the vaccine production facility led by Mr. Kafeero, various departments were showcased, including raw material warehouses, production sections, laboratories, and packaging rooms. The comprehensive tour demonstrated the facility’s readiness for vaccine production and emphasized the critical need for sustainable energy and water sources to support the operations effectively.

The Project Committee and the Project team during the guided tour around the vaccine manufacturing facility led by the facility Pharmacist, Mr. Ivan Kafeero. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
The Project Committee and the Project team during the guided tour around the vaccine manufacturing facility led by the facility Pharmacist, Mr. Ivan Kafeero.
The Project Committee and the Project team during the guided tour around the vaccine manufacturing facility led by the facility Pharmacist, Mr. Ivan Kafeero. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
The Project Committee and the Project team during the guided tour around the vaccine manufacturing facility led by the facility Pharmacist, Mr. Ivan Kafeero.

Following discussions and observations during the visit, the Committee Chairperson commended the progress achieved thus far and confirmed plans for a follow-up visit in two months to monitor the facility’s operational readiness for commencing production.

The collaborative partnership between Makerere University and Alfasan signifies a ground-breaking initiative in animal healthcare research and underscores the potential for significant advancements in combating tick-borne diseases through innovative collaborations and dedicated efforts.

The meeting between Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee, the Anti-Tick Vaccine Project team, and the Team from Alfasan on 24th June 2024. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
The meeting between Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee, the Anti-Tick Vaccine Project team, and the Team from Alfasan on 24th June 2024.

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Veterinary & Biosecurity

CoVAB Annual Report 2023

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The Principal CoVAB, Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine. College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

It is my pleasure to share the Annual Report for the year 2023, which highlights various milestones realized in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity. First and foremost, I wish to congratulate all of us for the input rendered in the running of the college during the period, which effort made us score in several areas as prescribed by the mandate of the college and Makerere University as a whole.

Our mandate is teaching and learning, research and innovation, as well as knowledge transfer and partnerships. As you will realize in this report, this task has been handled meticulously through a concerted effort by all stakeholders, the students, the teaching, and the administrative staff and partners. The college takes pride in the contribution made by our partners who continue to support us in the delivery of the mandate in varied ways, such as Norbrook (U) Ltd, which since 2021 has continued to prize the best performing Veterinary students with cash prizes every year.

The College continues to excel in research and community outreach as evidenced by the increased research output in several Biomedical and Applied research projects with support from the Government of Uganda and our development partners which for instance resulted in the establishment of a Biomarker discovery and translation research laboratory at COVAB. Equipment was procured to support the development of point-of-care diagnostic kits for infectious and non-communicable diseases including cancer. The goal is to translate identified biomarkers into point-of-care diagnostics for both human and veterinary medicine. The platform supports drug target discovery and elucidation of drug action mechanisms.

The college hosts a Central Laboratory Animal Research Facility that support pre-clinical studies in animal models for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, alongside refurbished laboratories at Biosafety Levels 2 and 3 (BSL2, BSL3), fitted with state-of-the-art equipment to execute cutting edge basic and applied research.

This and other efforts strategically place CoVAB and Makerere at large in a position to confront major animal and even human health challenges as significant proportions of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases are of animal origin (Zoonotic).

We are looking forward to an even more successful period ahead of us, and together definitely we shall achieve all we set out to do.

Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine
PRINCIPAL

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Veterinary & Biosecurity

The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase at CoVAB

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Participants follow proceedings. The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase, June 20th, 2024, Ruth Keesling Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase was held on June 20th, 2024, at the Ruth Keeslings Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity, and for the first time involved CoVAB students.

The Boma was the final event of this year’s CoVAB-Mississippi State University’s (MSU) Tropical Veterinary Medicine and One Health Study Abroad program which started on May 31, 2024. The study abroad course focuses on animal production and health management, conservation medicine, aquatic health, wildlife health, public health, food safety, and security, as well as inculcating One Health principles while suffusing multicultural experiences.

During the presentations, the participants expressed what they enjoyed most while on the program and this included observing the human-wildlife interactions, working on wildlife and the identified difference between the US and Uganda, the animal welfare champion, as well as having Ugandan students included on the program.

Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine, CoVAB Principal (C) Dr. Sarah Nalule, HoD WAAR (L) and Dr. David Kahwa Lecturer WAAR (R). The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase, June 20th, 2024, Ruth Keesling Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine, CoVAB Principal (C) Dr. Sarah Nalule, HoD WAAR (L) and Dr. David Kahwa Lecturer WAAR (R).

The Principal, Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine officiated at the event characterized by sharing the student’s experiences through presentations made before academicians, researchers, and students.  In his remarks, he said the Boma was a great avenue for sharing information and learning from each other drawing from the experiences of the students while out in the community and the wild. Prof. Mwiine commended Mississippi State University for the long relationship they have had with CoVAB and appreciated the inclusion of the Uganda students into the program. He expressed optimism that the summer school will grow into problem-solving partnerships in research, training, and community development.

During the three weeks excursions in Uganda, participating students from Mississippi State University together with their counterparts from CoVAB engaged in experiential field trips with hands-on experience at the interfaces between animals, humans, and the environment.

The Team from Mississippi University appreciated CoVAB for the lead role in organizing the Summer School that brought the students into contact with new areas with most of them being in Africa for the first time.  He said the summer school was opening up opportunities for further collaboration in areas like student exchange programs as well as graduate research.  It was a great experience for the students to move out of their area to the unknown and the exposure left lifelong in print on the student’s academic, practice, and outlook towards life, said the representative of Prof. Stephen Reichley, the team leader.

Participants pose for a group picture in front of the Centre for Global Health, CoVAB. The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase, June 20th, 2024, Ruth Keesling Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Participants pose for a group picture in front of the Centre for Global Health, CoVAB.

Dr. Celsus Sente the Summer School coordinator and lecturer in the Department of Wildlife and Aquatic Resources (WAAR) said the three-week expedition was a great field experiential learning opportunity using one health approach.  Students went to different places including Gaba Fish Landing Site, the Murchison conservation area, Mbarara Abattoir where they interacted with the meat inspectors, Kibaale conservation area where they observed wildlife practical activities like birds, undertook activities involving cattle, and goats as well as the feel of the interface between the environment, humans, and animal health, the one health approach at the fishing villages there.

A team makes a presentation at the Boma. The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase, June 20th, 2024, Ruth Keesling Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A team makes a presentation at the Boma.

The Boma as a concept in an African context means a meeting that allows learning and a two-way exchange of information between elders and youngsters. African culture involves the transfer of wisdom and knowledge from wise, knowledgeable, and highly experienced elders to the young who are mentored into responsible community members. The concept was therefore used to allow the opportunity to share knowledge from all stakeholders as experienced in the course of learning.

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