Poor on-farm practices responsible for tick resistance, says NDA’s spokesperson

KIRUHURA – Farmers in Kashongi Kiruhura district have been advised to put more emphasis on good farm practices to address the challenge of persistent tick resistance on their farms.

This was revealed by National Drug Authority (NDA) during a forum dubbed “Farmer’s parliament” where both crop and livestock farmers in Ankole sub-region are engaged to share their challenges and forge solutions on the farm.

During the meeting, Eric Rutahigwa, one of the successful livestock farmers in Western Uganda, tasked the NDA to explain why ticks have persisted on their farms despite several interventions in place.

Rutahigwa further blamed NDA on failure to control fake acaricides entering into the country through porous borders.

“During 1963, farmers were using the same drugs we are using today and their animals could not suffer from tick related diseases. Now, should we think today we have fake drugs entering through Congo and elsewhere?” he asked.

In response, Abiaz Rwamwiri, the Spokesperson NDA confirmed that tick resistance has been terrorizing farmers especially in the cattle corridor since 2012 especially in districts of Ankole and Nakasongola.

However, he warned farmers in Kiruhura district to start good farming practices to address issues of tick resistance in the area.

“Even if we protect the supply chain when the on-farm-practice is not good, it can make the drug not work and it’s that consistent misuse that creates the resistance,” says Rwamwiri.

Some of the farm practices include; types of pressure pumps used, the crash and mixing of acaricides.

“When some people are told to mix a litre in 20 litres, they think it’s a jerrycan, yet most jerrycans’ contents are more than 20 litres which means the drug will get diluted and it will not work effectively.”

Working with the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Rwamwiri says NDA is coming up with mechanisms of supply chain to track fake acaricides entering into the Ugandan market.

“Of course, we had engagements with Hon Frank Tumwebaze and he assigned a team two weeks ago. We are also going to meet the importers of the veterinary drugs to strengthen our operations because whereas we release good quality drugs on the market, we cannot say that there are no counterfeits. We know there are wrong elements that are counterfeiting the drugs and unfortunately some of these guys are professionals who have been helping farmers that started mixing the acaricides,” he explained.

“We release drugs when they are of good quality, safe and their efficacy is okay and now we want to make sure that the supply chain is protected keeping the drug in the intended condition because a good drug if not handled well, its quality can deteriorate and will not serve the intended purpose,” he adds.

Rwamwiri also says, NDA will extend village trainings especially in areas of Kiruhura where tick resistance has become a growing concern.

“We have made a commitment in Kiruhura because we realized they have more challenges yet with the highest number of cattle that produce close to 2 million litres of milk a day. Starting with mid-February this year to the end of March, we will be having intensive trainings in each of the sub-counties working with the DVO,” says NDA’s spokesperson.

“We shall be meeting farmers, identifying key farms that have the highest resistance and diagnosing because as National Drug Authority, it is our concern when people are losing their animals to preventable and treatable diseases like East Coast Fever, Anaplasmosis, and Heartwater,” he added.

Rwamwiri also warned farmers that mixing acaracides with agrochemicals is detrimental to both humans and animal health.

“Of course, there are issues of mixing agrochemicals like the dudus, the two in one pesticides that farmers are talking about shouldn’t be applied on animals because animals are like humans and their bodies are so sensitive that is why they are getting blind and infertile,” says Rwamwiri.

However, Rutahigwa insists that a number of government authorities have failed on the role of controlling fake acaricides which has sparked a common norm of tick resistance in the cattle corridor.

“Doctors of NDA must accept that you have failed your role to control and regulate animal drugs. And there are three people who have killed us, that is NDA, NMS, and those in Agriculture expertise like NAGRIC rather than blaming us farmers that we are using poor farm practices,” Rutahigwa emphasized.

Robert Kabatereine, the Coordinator of Farmers Parliament says, the forum is seeking government support to farmers to improve on the farming systems, boost product capacity and market for the products.

“We intend to fill the gap between farmers and the government. We bring experts like from NDA to identify the challenges of farmers for adequate solutions. Like if there is an issue of fake drugs in the market how do we resolve it, and all this will be exposed through the farmers’ parliament,” Kabatereine said.


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