Government to start acaricide zoning to address issues of tick-borne resistance

KIRUHURA – The government of Uganda is pushing for acaricide zoning to fight the tick-borne resistance that has greatly affected animal industry especially in the cattle corridor.

Through Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the government will fast track a special drug to kill all the resistant ticks before embarking on acaricide zoning to solve the problem of tick resistance in the country.

According to Dr Anna Rose Ademun, the Commissioner Animal Health in the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, government is looking forward to creating zones in all the four regions of Uganda to guide farmers on which acaricides to administer to their animals.

Ademun said this over the weekend while presiding over the farmer’s parliament held in Sanga Town Council Kiruhura district.

Farmers’ parliament is a regional forum which was recently launched by farmers in November 2021 to discuss and seek redress about the issues affecting farmers in Western Region.

During the meeting, most farmers were furious with National Drug Authority (NDA) claiming that it has not provided a solution to their animals that have continued to die because of tick resistance against alleged fake acaricides.

“NDA has totally failed to block fake acaricides on market, a reason as to why some of us have resorted to the use of agrichemicals. I will not continue seeing my animals die when I have not provided any solution,” Steven Kakuru, a farmer in Kiruhura bitterly said.

The commissioner blamed tick resistance on existing organisms which is part of the evolution aspect.

“Use of a single acaricide for so many years has led to exposure of the ticks to all the acaricide molecules. Ticks by nature develop resistance towards the drugs because they have an internal system within their genes which fights back. So, these type of rotation is now going to fight tick resistance,” Dr Ademun said.

She however, comforted farmers that the government has already approved funds of importing eprinomectin, a special acaricide to kill Rhipicephalus (Boophilus), which is the most devastating tick species that has resisted most acaricides in Uganda.

“In 2019, we tested all the acaricides we had on the market to find out whether the drugs are able to kill the drug resistant ticks. We also found that there is boophilus (fat tick), the most resistant tick in the population of ticks that are in our community which is really a glaring problem,” Ademun said.

“And we have also found that there is a drug which is not registered in our country called eprinomectin and we have already requested Cabinet to provide funding to be able to cleanse off the resistant tick,” she added.

“Since the government has already approved funds to procure that drug in bulk, we will start by using eprinomectin as an acaricide to kill off the resistant ticks. Then after, we shall roll out a cleansing exercise to eradicate resistant ticks,” Ademun emphasized.

She says, the Ministry is only waiting for the government to release funds to embark on the acaricide zoning exercise that exposes the ticks to one molecule.

Dr Ademun appealed to the farmers to welcome the zoning program when it rolls out massively in the country.

“Unless we work as a team and work at the zone level, whereby government should guide which acaricides to use, we are really going to fall into a mess. So, we have asked the farmers to welcome the idea of acaricide zoning because our nation is greatly surviving on agriculture,” said the Commissioner.

Dr Ademun also advised NDA officials and farmers to stop the blame game attitude but rather focus on addressing the tick related challenges on farms.

“This is a value chain of acaricides which covers the manufacturer up to the user at the farm. Therefore, the challenges in acaricides originates either from the manufacturer, importation distribution or at user level meaning that if the acaricide is not working; either it was not manufactured well, imported well, tested well or the farmer is also not doing his work at the farm,” she said.

However, Safari Magyezi, a livestock farmer who also doubles as the Mayor Sanga Town Council, insisted that farmers have followed the acaricide prescriptions but ticks have failed to die.

“Do you want to tell us that all the livestock farmers have failed to follow the drug prescriptions while mixing the acaricides? How come in the 1980s we had an acaricide called gamatox which we would use to spray the cattle and spend 15 days without seeing any tick?” Magyezi asked

Florence Bahikire, another Dairy farmer hailing from Kiruhura district encouraged the government to autonomously handle the business of acaricides to protect farmers from alleged fake products.

“How I wish that the government would take over the autonomy of managing and selling drugs to the farmers from one stock point rather than having so many private drug outlets selling different products including counterfeit acaricides,” Bahikire emphasized.

Abiaz Rwamwiri, the Public Relations Manager of National Drug Authority, appealed to the government to consider having a national drug store for proper vet drug distribution chains.

“The government needs to consider having a national drug store equivalent to National Medical Stores that brings in veterinary drugs and distributes through a proper supply chain upto local units like sub-counties where a farmer can be able to pay for the animal drugs at a subsidized price,” Rwamwiri explained.

He also asked farmers to stop using agrichemicals on their animals which contaminates the milk and meat products thus affecting the export market.

“Most cows have gone blind and research has also shown that such agrichemicals directly mix with milk which has greatly affected the quality and standard of Uganda’s animal products to compete in the international market,” Rwamwiri said.

Currently, agriculture employs about 70% of the population of Uganda and the livestock sector contributes about 3.3 % of the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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Festivities and terrorism: ARLPI call for vigilance

GULU – The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) has called on the people in the sub-region and the country to remain vigilant as they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the New Year’s Day.

Their appeal follow recent incidents of terror attacks majorly in Central Uganda which has left a number of people dead and others injured.

Sheik Musa Khelil, the Acholi Muslim District Khadi says, most times terrorists tend to plan and attacks where people have gathered or plan to gather to fulfil their mission.

The district Khadi also says, since the current period is for celebration, people tend to gather and live a carefree life and are not security cautious which makes it very easy for the terrorists to attack.

“Most times people congregate from various parts of the world to have some time with their relatives and friends. When people congregate, they are usually not security conscious which makes it very easy for the terrorists to attack,” Khelil observed.

“Now as we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s day, my appeal is that we are security cautious of the terrorists and also the pandemic because we don’t know where our colleagues are from and whether they are positive or not, otherwise we risk plunging the country into further restrictions which will continue to hurt our economy,” Khelil adds.

Archbishop John Baptist Odama, the Bishop of the Gulu Archdiocese while speaking to journalists from Flight View Hotel in Gulu City West Division this week, rallied people not only to focus on their personal joy but that of the underprivileged people by sharing the little they have.

Odama, also the acting Chairperson of ARLPI said, the festivities should be for showing love, sharing and protecting each other from the country’s deadliest enemy, COVID-19 which has subjected many people to abject poverty as a result of the continuous restrictions to curtail its spread.

David Ongom Mudong, the Aswa Region Police Spokesperson in a recent interview with our reporter said, their security deployment will double over the festive season since people will want to flout the guidelines set to curtail the spread of the contagion which is also likely to expose the region to terror acts.

Ongom said, they were doubling foot and motorized patrols to ensure sanity in the City center and other towns and trading centers within the region.

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Ministry of Agriculture invests Shs 8.5 billion to promote coffee fertilizers

HOIMA – Ministry of Agriculture through Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) have launched a campaign to rejuvenateold coffee plantations in Bunyoro region through supplying fertilizers to registered farmers.

The campaign was on Wednesday launched by the State Minister for Animal Industry and Fisheries, Lt. Col Bright Rwamirama in Kyesiga village, Bujumbura ward, Hoima west division in Hoima city.

Dr. Emmanuel Lyamulemye Niyibigira, the Managing Director UCDA explained that the initiative is aimed at prompting coffee stumping in the region.

According to him, coffee stumping is the practice of rejuvenating older coffee trees by cutting all their main stems, to encourage new growth.

He said that when a farmer stumps his or her coffee plantation and applies fertilizers, its productivity triples. Lyamulemye also said, there are 2.2 million coffee trees but these trees are no longer productive because they are too old.

Lyamulemye added that under this initiative, UCDA will distribute 67,000 bags of organic fertilizers worth Shs 8.5 billion to 45,000 registered organic coffee farmers.

He challenged the coffee farmers to embrace organic fertilizers if their coffee is to meet world market standards in USA, Europe, Austria and New Zealand among others.

“We are giving out fertilizers to farmers to demonstrate that when you have stumped your coffee and you use organic fertilizers, you can increase productivity per tree, three to four times and that translates to money,” he said.

In his speech during the launch for fertilizers distribution campaign, Rwamirama noted that as the sector targets to increase coffee production from 8 million to 9 million kilograms, the initiative will help the farmers and the government to achieve this desire.

He called on the farmers to focus on modern farming to ensure that they increase the productivity of coffee through using fertilizers, planting quality coffee seedlings and seeking advice from the extension workers.

He explained that the usage of fertilizers among the coffee farmers is still low adding that as the farmers get introduced to fertilizer usage, there is a need to guide on how to apply it.

With the sector expecting targets to increase coffee production in 2021, the Ministry is focusing on increased production through effective disease control; promotion of smart economic practices, market access promotion and inspection certification, these priority areas will go a long way in enabling the farming community and government to achieve the desired transformation to commercials agriculture.

However, he challenged the extension workers to embark on their role of supervising farmers adding that it has been observed that extension workers are no longer doing their work as expected, yet they are being paid by the government to do this job.

He also advised that as they advocate for increased coffee productivity, farmers and leaders should prioritize the issues of post-harvest handling to ensure quality.

“When you produce, you must make sure that you harvest properly, when you have harvested properly, you must make sure that you dry coffee properly so that it is not contaminated and when you have harvested properly then you must store it properly, ready for market,” he said.

Isaiah Biingi, the Chairman Kyabigambire Coffee Farmers Association, commended the government for supporting them. Biingi said, coffee pests and diseases such as coffee wilt disease (tracheomycosis) and Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR), coffee berry borer or coffee borer beetle and the absence of extension workers are some of the challenges affecting coffee farmers in the region.

He further explained that pesticides are very expensive for the farmers and called on the government to intervene and get them subsidised pesticides.

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Ministry of Agriculture needs Shs 20bn for foot & mouth vaccines

KAMPALA – The Ministry of Agriculture needs a 20bn supplementary budget to buy foot and mouth vaccines for animals in the cattle corridor.

The money, half of which will also be used to procure motor bikes for the Veterinary Officers in the same area.

The cattle corridor districts include; Isingiro, Kazo, Sembabule, Gomba, Nakasongora, Lyantonde, Mubende, Luwero, Nakaseke and some districts in Teso and Lango regions and Karamoja region.

The Minister for Agriculture, Frank Tumwebaze told the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, that out of the funds required, Shs.15bn would be used to buy at least 4 million doses of the vaccines that is expected to cover up to about 15 million heads of cattle.

“We shall need to procure a minimum of four million doses of the foot and mouth vaccines to cover the animals in the cattle corridor,” Tumwebaze said.

The cattle corridor districts of Sembabule, Lyantonde, Kazo and parts of Gomba have been locked in the cattle quarantine for a period of at least one year due to the infectious disease that affects animals.

Tumwebaze says, vaccination would be free to all farmers, and at some point it would be made mandatory.

“This disease causes severe production losses, and while the majority of affected animals recover, they become weak and unproductive. That is why we need to vaccinate at the onset of the disease,” he added.

Scientists have reported that areas neighboring game reserves and parks are prone to attacks, as animals share grazing fields with the wild animals.

Lyantonde, Kiruhura, Isingiro and Kazo all share boarders with Mburo National Game Park, while Nakasongora and Nakaseke have a similar challenge.

According to the Minster, part of the funds will be used to procure at least 30 motor bikes for each of the cattle corridor districts, to facilitate veterinary officers to attend to the animals.

“We shall use Shs 500 million for procurement of 30 motorcycles for each of the thirty districts in the cattle corridors,” Tumwebaze told the Committee.

Another Shs 900 million would be used for procurement of veterinary medical supplies, for the veterinarians to use.

Other beneficiaries of the supplementary allocation would be districts along the livestock trading routes, that are also prone to attacks.

These include districts like; Masaka, Kalungu, Lwengo, Mpigi, Mbale, Kumi, Katakwi, Lira among others.

The Ministry plans to start the vaccination exercise before the disease spreads during the wet season, and aims at covering at least 90% of the nation livestock population.

Foot and mouth disease spreads much in the wet seasons, when livestock movement is unlimited especially close to the wild game.

According to the National Animal Census conducted in 2020, Uganda reportedly has at least 58 million heads of cattle, with a high concentration in the cattle corridor.

The disease is reportedly widely spread by the migrant cattle keeping communities that roam the cattle corridor, although livestock traders are also to blame for the same.

The exercise will also include 16 million goats, 5 million sheep, pigs and other animals.

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Feedlot Technology To Boost Livestock Production

Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) is working with other partners including Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), to implement a project to enhance livestock production funded by the European Union and currently under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

The project referred to as Promote Supplementary Feeding is focusing on farmers’ access to and utilization of supplementary feeds for purposes of enhancing livestock production like fattening animals for the market.

Promote supplementary feeding (SUPPL-F) 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)”.

The implementation of MOBIP lies with 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 Suppl-F project.

The partners include: Robran Holdings Limited, Livestock Development Forum, The Green Elephant –VOF, CAES, Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited and Uganda Beef Producers Association.

The writer of this article is Jane Anyango, from Makerere University.

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Mbarara Haunted By FMD and Lockdown

MBARARA – As many people continue feasting on fresh meat, residents of Mbarara City are involuntarily abstaining from meat following the ban on sale over Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) that has paralyzed the cattle corridor in the districts of Lyantonde, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Bushenyi among others.

Dr Nabaasa Robinson, the In-charge of veterinary services in Mbarara City confirmed that the slaughter and sale of meat was banned in the city for 14 days as per temporary measures to contain FMD spread in the cattle corridor.

“We were not all that sick of FMD but because we are the biggest animal market in the region, we had an obligation to protect our neighbors since all those animals slaughtered come from infected areas. Also, to evaluate and reorganize our operations so that we don’t risk other districts,” Nabaasa emphasized.

The meat ban left people in Mbarara City with no other option but to survive on alternative sauces like greens and birds. The prices for greens and birds have since then increased due to increased demands.

“I used to buy fish at Shs 10,000 but now it is Shs 20,000 if you cross to chicken; it’s no longer Shs 30,000 it now goes for Shs 45,000 because there is no more meat at the butcheries” Gilbert Mwesigye, a city dweller decried.

However, poultry farming in Mbarara City and the neighboring districts, the cost of a tray of eggs dropped from Shs 15,000 to Shs 7,000; while a bunch of bananas dropped from Shs 10,000 to Shs 1,000-2,000 depending on its size.

Nimusiima Stephen, the Chairman Rufuura Abattoir says, meat business is no longer normal as it was before Covid19.

“We used to slaughter more than 40 animals a day but currently we slaughter only about 10 animals and even buyers themselves come crying of debts because they will tell you that their businesses are all stuck. Farmers have also used this chance to increase the animal prices” Nimusiima explains.

The 14-day ban ended on Monday and new guidelines have been raised for abattoirs and butcheries to operate normally.

“After the 14-day ban we evaluated ourselves and developed new guidelines on how to operate though some routes were closed and their animals can’t cross to our city especially animals from Kiruhura, Isingiro and Rubaya” says Nabaasa.

“No health certificate, no animal entry into our abattoir and you have to bring animals for slaughter not to stock including observation of Covid19 Standard Operating Procedures [SOPs] because such abattoirs are big factories so we need to ensure that our people remain safe,” he added.

Nabaasa says the resumption of slaughtering animals in Mbarara City doesn’t interfere with the presidential guidelines on closing the weekly cattle markets for 42 days.

“With the presidential directives, he stopped cattle and weekly markets but farmers are allowed to sell direct from their farms. We also have loading sites like those in Kiruhura as he emphasized that agricultural activities should continue” Nabaasa retaliates.

He, however, says the city zone still has a few sick animals in Rwenjueru bordering Kiruhura, Rukindo in Nyakayojo urging traders to observe Covid19 SOPs to avoid risks of total lockdown.

Away from food stuffs, drivers and bus owners are lamenting after the president re-directed closure of every movement of motor vehicles and cycles except for those carrying cargo.

Njoma Aesi, a bus driver at Global Buses says that the business environment has become so harsh that most of the people in the transport sector have returned to their villages for survival.

“Most of our colleagues have gone to the villages while others are wondering in town because they have no alternative job. Remember our children were also sent from school even after paying school dues so the conditions are not good” Njoma explained.

He appealed to the government to at least ease the lockdown such that public transport business can resume.

“I think the government would have eased the lockdown and put some strict measures enabling us to continue working rather than shutting us down” Njoma said

Kihembo Anthony, the General Manager Global buses says the transport ban risks damaging their vehicles and will need repairs.

“Last year we parked almost for a year, but we were forced to do mechanical repairs. The fact that buses are not moving, most parts are vulnerable to breaking down. We purchased some of these buses on loan meaning that parking them, they will not be making money, yet we have to clear the bank loans” Kihembo lamented.

He advised the government to always consult business stakeholders rather than just enforcing strict guidelines.

“Before such measures are put in place, let the government first consult people with experience for guidance but if you take such harsh decisions then they continue to haunt us in the private business”

However, Lt Col. Mwesigye James, the Resident City Commissioner (RCC) Mbarara vowed to implement all directives to save people from massive death.

“People must remain where they are, if you have nothing important to do in town why don’t you stay at home. Those who had come to the markets in big numbers, we have dispersed them, and we are trying so hard to make sure that curfew is implemented” explained Mwesigye.

Our reporter made a close survey in the bus park and all bus offices were locked meaning that no transport business is going on but for boda-bodas, they are continuously seen carrying passengers in and outside Mbarara City.

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