Experts Explain Failure of Artificial Insemination in Gulu as Dairy Farmers Count Losses

GULU – The knowledge gaps on artificial insemination is painfully affecting livestock farmers in Gulu as a number of their animals have reportedly taken years without conception.

Some of the farmers who spoke to theCooperator have described the situation as costly and burdensome to maintain the animals.

Artificial insemination is the process of introducing semen collected from a bull into the reproductive tract of a cow for the occurrence of pregnancy without physical mating.

The technology which was adopted years ago and extensively used on many species of animals in the world still faces challenges as most of the farmers have limited knowledge of the practice.

Agnes Oyella, a dairy farmer from Koro in Gulu City told theCooperator in a recent interview that her two cows have taken nearly two years without conception.

Oyella explained that she has been spending close to Shs 200,000 monthly to feed the animals and to maintain them in good health but the cows have failed to conceive.

Besides the monthly cost of feeding and maintenance, Oyella disclosed that she had attempted to inseminate the cows more than five times but has been unsuccessful.

Oyella said she has been paying Shs 90,000 to the Veterinary technicians for each of the insemination processes. She described the practice as costly and burdensome.

Just like Oyella, Betty Apiyo, another dairy farmer in the area says she had kept her two cows for a year without conception, besides three unsuccessful attempts to conduct artificial insemination.

Joska Otto, a founder member of Gulu Community Cooperative Society similarly noted that most of the members are experiencing the same problem which she says is affecting milk production.

“Dairy farming isn’t like any other farming which can be directly affected by floods but this involves technicalities which most farmers are yet to embrace,” Otto told.

theCooperator in an interview.

Alfred Opiyo, the Gulu District Veterinary Officer says, farmers need to understand the heat signs in animals and to have proper timing for successful artificial insemination.

The cow on heat is noticed by signs of loss of appetite, mooing, restlessness, and swelling of the valve which changes to red among others.

Meanwhile, the livestock farmer or a caretaker should recognize these changes within three days for successful artificial insemination without which the cow will fail to conceive.

The heat signs last for twelve hours a day and according to Opiyo, if a cow shows signs in the morning, it should undergo insemination in the evening but if it occurs in the evening, then the cow should be inseminated in the next morning when chances are high for conception.

He further explained that poor nutrition in animals is one of the factors affecting artificial insemination in the district where animals of that nature tend to go on silent heat.

The technicalities in the practice should have been majorly handled by the extension workers but Opiyo revealed that the district only has two veterinary officers to handle about 800,000 animals.

The district lacks 6 veterinary officers adding that each Sub County should have had four veterinary officers but only one is operating the entire village.

The underlined factors according to him are not only affecting animal breeding but the animal health and production, value addition, and the development of the livestock industry in the district.

“The ratio to farmers is much and yet each of the veterinary officers is to handle only 500 animals but look at the number of animals we have and this is the area the government has failed to invest in” Opiyo explained.

His counterpart, Junior Rwotomiya, a Veterinary Doctor with Countryside Harvester also revealed that the region is battling with the scarcity of semen for insemination adding that low-quality liquid nitrogen for keeping the semen alive is yet another factor affecting the services.

Nitrogen liquid is a desirable condition for keeping the semen alive which functions like testis for the manufacturing of sperm cells.

He however revealed that their Organisation has procured 1,000 straws of semen for supporting the livestock farmers in the 17 districts of Lango, Acholi, and West Nile regions.

The support according to him is part of the Shs 5.1 billion that the UK government has allocated to the region for improving animal and poultry farming for a period of five years which kicked off in June this year.

Dr. Issac Ngole, the Project Coordinator Community-Based Breeding Program under the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal and Fisheries revealed that the government has recently launched community animal breeding.

The National animal breeding program according to him is aimed at improving the high-quality breeds in the Country which is already being clustered under the Operation Wealth Creation [OWC].

He further revealed that the Program from the North is being piloted in both Aswa ranch in Pader district and Maruzi in Apac district which has more than 4,000 quality breeds for supply to the farmers adding that 99 percent of the cattle in the northern part of the Country are indigenous breeds.

“We have a target of 600 high-quality breeds of animals to be supplied to the farmers each year but what is coming next is the establishment of a regional nitrogen liquid laboratory in Gulu for safe storage of semen to improve the artificial insemination in the region” Ngole further disclosed.

He also noted that the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries has already procured 1,000 straws of semen for supporting the farmers under the national animal breeding program in collaboration with Operation Wealth Creation.

While most of the livestock farmers are yet to appreciate animal breeding, less than 10 percent of the animals in the Country are of high quality according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries which have reportedly affected production in the industry.

The report indicates that agricultural contribution to the economy has stagnated at only 23 percent for the last five years though there has been some increase in the production of coffee which rose from 4.6 million bags from the financial year 2015/2016 to 8.1 million bags in 2020/2020 financial year.

Fish catches increased from 449,000 tons in the same year to 600,000 tons in the 2020/2021 financial year while milk production rose from 2.1 billion liters to 2.6 billion liters.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has also reported an increase in the domestic investments at 13 percent from $385.3 to $433.8 US but recommended industrialization for accelerated growth in the agricultural sector which employs 74 percent of Ugandans. End.

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