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MAK trains 14 Pig Artificial Insemination (AI) technicians under the DIVERE PIG project: Three (3) of the trainees are from Rwanda

Participants went through both theoretical and practical aspects of Pig Artificial Insemination

Makerere University’s Department of Agricultural Production has trained 14 pig AI technicians under the project titled, “Improving pig productivity: Diversifying piglet nutrition options and upscaling Artificial Insemination in Uganda (DIVERSE-PIG) . Three (3) of the trainees came from Rwanda.


The project is being led by Assoc. Prof. Donald Rugira Kugonza funded by the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) at an estimated budget of Shs. 225,517,500 from May 2014-2017.The project has two components involving research and upscaling Artificial Insemination in pigs in Uganda.

The one week training was conducted at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK). The closing ceremony was presided over by the Deputy Director, Directorate of Graduate Research and Training (DGRT) Makerere University Assoc. Prof. David Owinyi at the conference room School of Agricultural Sciences on 29th Apri,l 2016

Participants  were awarded certificates of participation.

Prof. Owinyi said this project for improving pig productivity is something that must be embraced and supported and up scaled because, one of the fastest growing livestock industries is Uganda and East Africa is the pig industry.

“Many people pass time in joints enjoying pork and we have so many super markets in Rwanda Kenya, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania and there so many upcoming supermarkets and all need pork for sale. The other thing is that the population is so big about 160 million people within East Africa and they need pork among the meat they eat. We need to participate and help the farmers to produce enough”. He said.

He noted that the biggest challenge in East Africa is producing for own consumption, a practice he said was now irrelevant. He said the region needs to produce in excess for home consumption, sale and export to other countries.

 Prof. David Owinyi (L- standing ) giving his remarks

Prof. Owinyi said the project objective of up scaling pig AI by establishing community AI centres and capacity building is very important and the reason participants were for the training.

“There are two important things for every living thing, one is for an individual to live and survive and two when living, they have to ensure that their species survive that is where reproduction becomes very important. So in this case, for us in livestock production, you will not go around slaughtering pigs, you get rid off them, so you must ensure they survive and reproduce”. The Vet Professor said.

Prof. David Owinyi described AI as a technology and a tool of production where you can use quality breeds and spread their genes to improve production in animals. He said AI did not start in Uganda and had been practiced elsewhere but it was not practiced in Uganda until of recent breakthrough in research .

“You have been trained to inseminate pigs, go and practice it. AI need dedication and, you need to be ready. AI is something that does not require to wait, when an animal is on heat. To inseminate more animals you must have inseminated one animal. People need to see you inseminate and the yardstick is the piglets born. Then one farmer will tell the other and the rest will come to know about you and AI, your business will increase and you make more money”. Prof. Owinyi advised.


 Trainees in the lab

The Professor implored the trainees to be uptaken to make research and researchers relevant to society. He told the trainees that Pig AI has not been practiced before in Uganda because of the trouble with its sensitivity of pig semen to lower temperature. He said cattle semen can be frozen to a temperature of -196 and survive but the pigs semen before you cross to those temperatures, it would have died a long time ago.

“Therefore for semen to be kept for AI it should be kept at a temperature of around 13- 15 and the moment you come very low you are killing them and therefore you would use liquid semen and not frozen semen and you cannot therefore keep for long time preferebly 3days and discard what you have not used”. He advised.

He told the trainees that the university was doing some studies on AI and would sometimes require information from them to establish whether they are heading to the right direction.

Prof. Owinyi also advised trainees to deliver their services with a business mindset.

“Everything you do, do it with a business mindset. Go and perform and know that you can earn a living out of AI. You can tame three boar breeds but of different lines, collect semen and give these technicians to distribute, you can charge basing on numbers of sows inseminated and by the time you slaughter the boar, it would have earned you ten times its carcass value, he advised.

Trainees at the MUARIK boar study where sement collection is done

Speaking during the function the Head Department Agricultural Department Assoc. Prof. Denis Mpairwe welcomed the participants to Makerere and particularly recognized those from Rwanda for choosing to train in Uganda and Makerere University in particular. He also thanked district officials for selecting the participants for training. Dr. Mpairwe also thanked The PI Dr. Donald Kugonza for the long journey in pig AI .

He recalled that pig AI succeeded at Makerere University in 2011 and received overwhelming demand that necessitated the upscaling of the technology. At that time, he said, the university had only two technicians who were trained abroad Mr. Robert Natumanya and Ronald Kuwule.

Dr. Denis Mpairwe giving remarks

He told participants that one of the successes of AI is communication.

“If your communication is very poor AI cannot work, leave alone the kits and other things. So it means your phones must be on all the time. So expect that your districts are going to facilitate you to communicate and also move from one place to another”, Dr. Mpairwe said.

The success of PI according to Dr. Mpairwe is also being honest. He asked trainees to be always as accurate as posibble, following and applying the knowledge and skills acquired, be efficient and timely in delivery of AI services.

“The best way of doing AI is not what you have learnt here but it is by practice. The more you do it, the more you become experienced. It is not something you need to read the book first, but it should be within you” He said.

Participants during theoretical classes at CAEC MUARIK

Dr. Mpairwe also told trainees that the certificates will only proof that they know what they are doing. He advised them to have the zeal and the effort and love the job to increase the demand for AI services. He also told participants that they were entering an area of breeding and should avoid causing a problem of inbreeding in communities and always keep records.

The Project Principal Investigator (PI) Assoc. Prof. Donald Rugira Kugonza welcomed the participants to Makerere University and thanked them for spending the whole week on the University farm. The participants were hosted by the Centre for Continuing Agricultural Education (CAEC) which is under the University’s Department of Extension and Innovation Studies in CAES.

 PI Dr. Donald Rugira Kugonza

On Wednesday, the participants were taken to the laboratory Veterinary School in CoVAB where they had a good feel of what Makerere University is like. In a special way Dr. Kugonza welcomed participants from Rwanda and the Chief Guest for leaving other appointments to grace the occasion.

The PI reported that the project has been running since 2014, supported by NARO and it had a break of 9 months but there has been assurance that it will now continue non-stop. He said the project initial plan was to train 10 AI technician but they have managed to score 14.

“The project is running in two districts of Wakiso and Kabarole and still we shall be able to train more from Kabarole district. In wakiso district we have a center at Rwemitaba where we are raising a boar centre and an expanded piggery unit. We also have a centre in MUARIK . Members were able to sample semen from the boars so we really hope that we shall deliver on the expectations of this project”, Dr. Kugonza pledged.

Hands on: Trainers in the lab examining semen

The other component according to the PI is building capacity of the NARS. Two MSc. Students, one from Wakiso district and one member of staff from Makerere University are being trained under the project.

“So we wanted to train people who are going to use the skills and expound on the outcomes of this project. We are looking forward to give you information, they have presented their proposals, done experimentations and have started doing analysis of the results. So I am hopeful that they can complete and graduate in January 2017, ”The PI said.

Dr. Kugonza reminded participants on the curve on how much meat every Ugandan consumes. That curve, he said is very painful to see that the amount of meat consumed by Ugandans is not changing. “It means there is a lot more we have to do and since we appreciate that Ugandans like pork I really think that you are going to take this technology further so that the meat available can increase”, he added:

“I know a lot can be done with cattle and goats but with pigs you can do double more. So I really hope this technology you have acquired can inspire you not only giving you some cash but also increasing the number of pigs in Wakiso. If we can double from 3.4 kilos and land at 6.8 kilos may be in five years that will be very commendable.” Dr. Kugonza advised.

Participants assembling in conference room for the closure

He said Swine fever is one of the major diseases that kills pigs in thousands reducing the population. But if AI is adopted and farmers encourage using the technologies, the goal can be reached. He thanked the participants and encouraged them to take the knowledge out.

“I promised to follow you in the field. 9% of the project fund is on monitoring so, we are going to monitor you and know how you are doing. I have had your request to have an insemination kit. Although we never planned for these, we shall review on our side and get back to you”. He said

The representative of the Veterinary Officer Wakiso district Dr. Bamundaga Kyobe thanked the project coordinators for the program for empowering 14 pig AI technicians mainly located in Wakiso districts.

The representaive of the DVO Wakiso, Dr. Bamundaaga Kyobe speaking

“That means that we are going to spearhead this technology. To Wakiso, this is very important in the view of the fact that the district has the highest number of pig farmers in the country, so we are actually privileged”, the officer said.

He tipped off the trained participants that the district’s generation of farmers today are very sophiscated, modern and informed with political and technical connections and even more educated.

“So when we go to practice with them, we have to be professional and ethical. I wish you the best in Wakiso and hope to get the best from you”, He said.

The Lead Trainer Mr. Robert Natumanya reported that the one of the project objectives was to train pig AI technicians to enhance the capacity of National Agricultural Research systems (NARS) and other institutions within NARS.

   Lead Trainer Mr. Robert Natumanya presenting during the closing ceremony

“So we planned to train technicians from Wakiso district for one week and went through a series of theory and practicals. So I am happy to be part of the program and we have worked within the project resources and done well. The program is going to continue and we shall continue working with those trained”, Mr. Natumanya pledged.

Speaking on behalf of the participants, Ms. Nabachwa Suzan from Busukuma sub county Wakiso district thanked the Project Principal Investigator for involving them in the training. She also thanked the District officials in the Production Department for interesting the participant in the training.


Ms. Nabacwa during practical training

“We expected learning more about Piggery Artificial Insemination and from what we have learnt we can deliver this technology to our communities and farmers for profitability. We also appreciate the efforts to form the AI association which will help us advance in our careers”, Ms. Nabacwa said and went on to enumerate other expectations:

“We are also expecting to get an AI Insemination kit to help us deliver what we have been trained. Another expectation is the provision of facilities or resource persons we can consult and check the concentrations. In this we expect to get a pure breed that we shall initiate with our farmers to increase profitability”.

Ms. Nabacwa  speaking during the closing ceremony

She also said the trainees will have to entice others to join these AI seminars and train more on behalf of the districts. She called upon fellow participants to embrace team work to realize their goals. She expressed appreciation to the project coordinators for the certificates saying these will add value to their curriculum Vitaes.

Participants posing with their certificates after the closing ceremony


Story compiled by:

Jane Anyango

Communication Officer, CAES


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