MUARIK hosts the 4th Seeds of Gold Farmer’s Clinic: Hundreds turn up for training on Poultry. Policy environment unfavourable to the Poultry sector, says Mak Don. Dr. Connie Kyarisiima.
Participants line up for breakfast as they arrive for the training at MUARIK
Hundreds of people on Saturday 7th May, 2016 thronged Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) for training in Poultry keeping. The function dubbed the 4th Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic was organized by the Daily Monitor Publication and sponsored by a number of companies including aBi -Trust, UAP, Quality Chemicals, Seeds of Gold and MTK.
The training attracted seasoned farmers, the youth, middle and the elderly interested in farming, companies dealing in agricultural supplies and services, members from the academia, media and some individuals from the armed forces.
A section of participants at the MUARIK grounds
Makerere University hosted the function and provided experts in poultry to facilitate the training. The facilitators included Dr. Connie Kyarisiima and Dr. Katongole Constantine from the University’s Department of Agricultural production; Dr. Lwasa Stephen from the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics. The three were from the School of Agricultural Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). The other instructor was Dr. Francis Mutebi from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio security (CoVAB).
The participants were grouped into four rotational locations and trained in different aspects of poultry farming namely Economics of Poultry Management, Poultry Nutrition, Poultry Husbandry and Poultry Health.
Dr. Lwasa Stephen conducting a lecture on the Economics of Poultry
The training was opened by the Principal, Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Prof. Bernard Bashaasha. Also present were the Director MUARIK, Assoc. Prof. Phinehas Tukamubwa and the Managing Director Monitor Publications Tony Glencross.
The Director MUARIK Assoc. Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa thanked the Monitor Publications for organizing the event and the sponsors for funding the function. He described MAURIK as a point of call for multidisciplinary agricultural technologies and enterprises for research, production and outreach at their disposal to benefit from.
The Director MUARIK Assoc. Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa addressing participants
He underscored the importance of agriculture as a noble sector for the economy and one, that calls for concerted efforts to improve on its production and productivity to meet the demand for food for the ever increasing human population.
In his opening remarks Prof. Bernard Bashaasha welcomed the participants to the university and thanked the organizers and sponsors of the event. The Principal described the training as a land mark event that was in line with the university core mandate.
“Makerere University’s core mandates are teaching, research and outreach. This function further fulfills the University’s mandate of outreach. It is a great opportunity to transfer knowledge and learn from you because you are more practical and for us we are theoretical”, Prof. Bashaasha stated and commended the topics as great.
Principal CAES, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha officially opening the training
Challenges to the poultry sector
Presenting on the general over view of the poultry sector in Uganda, Makerere University Poultry specialist Dr. Connie Kyarisiima observed that in Uganda, it is common talk that poultry farming is the simplest, and yet a profitable farm enterprise. For this reason, many people including government officials, business persons, subsistence farmers and unemployed youths are persuaded to invest in poultry farming.
“However, many farmers do not stay long in the business of poultry farming because they get in unprepared. As soon as they realize that they are not making profit, they quit. The four main areas which influence profitability and sustainability of a poultry farm are general husbandry, feeding, health and economics. These were the areas going to be addressed in this Farm Clinic”, Said Dr. Kyarisiima.
Poultry expert, Dr. Connie Kyarisiima (standing) presenting on the general overview of the poultry sector in Uganda
The don told participants that outside the farm, farmers require immediate services from input suppliers such as equipment, chicks, drugs and feeds. She however expressed dismay that Poultry farm input supply is controlled by the informal sector – This is associated with challenges of quality control especially concerning feeds and drugs and challenges of maintaining the quality of vaccines.
“Anybody in Uganda can set up a feed shelter, a drug shop and advertise their services as the best and you cannot tell whether the product is the best until you buy and fell into problems”. The don said.
Participants had a chance to visit the poultry input stalls that were mounted for exhibition
Dr. Kyarisiima also observed that the country has limited number of extension workers who are either public servants or private attached to NGOs posing a challenge to the poultry sector.
“Extension service providers both public and private are Agriculturalists and Veterinary doctors whose training is general. Unfortunately, there are times when non professionals infiltrate the service sector and provide misleading information”, She said and went on to observe that:
“Marketing of poultry products is largely informal, ranging from Farm gate piecemeal sales to wholesale of poultry products. In addition, we do marketing of live birds - implications and challenges are many. Marketing of processed birds also come with challenges of sustaining the cold chain exacerbated by seasonal and unreliable markets”
Many participants visited the stall to get information on poultry products and services during the training
The opportunities/pontential of poultry farming in Uganda
According to Dr. Connie Kyarisiima, poultry population particularly for chicken has been growing from 11.4 million in 2001 to 40 million in 2012 indicating an interest in chicken products and an opportunity for farmers to consider.
“Figures from the neighboring countries of DR Congo, Rwanda and Southern Sudan indicate that their poultry population is very low yet the demand is high. This means Ugandan farmers have an opportunity to tap into this regional market”. She said.
Participants attending a lecture facilitated by Dr. Connie Kyarisima in one of the locations
Other strengths that Uganda has are the favorable climate and fertile soils that allow all year production of cereal grains, grain legumes and oil seeds that are required for poultry feeds, low capital requirements for the sector and quick returns from the poultry enterprise . In addition, Uganda has skilled labour which is underutilized, local and regional markets and favourable infrastructure.
“Uganda has favorable climate. We are not worried about summer, freezing, extreme droughts and therefore we can keep poultry throughout the year”.
The policy gaps
Dr. Kyarisiima noted that the poultry sector does not have its own specific policies. It is therefore assumed that the sector is guided by the livestock policies within the broader Agriculture sector. However, it is worth noting that the existing policies and laws on livestock do not make specific reference to poultry issues. This diminishes the visibility of the poultry sector, especially during planning and prioritization of resource allocation.
Dr. Francis Mutebi of CoVAB training farmers on Poultry health in another location
The Meat Policy according the poultry expert does not regard poultry as meat. Thus, the laws governing movement/transportation of livestock, slaughter and meat marketing are not applied to poultry. Local governments which are responsible for setting standards, issuing livestock movement permits; and law enforcement do not regard poultry as important. This does not only create loopholes that lead to the spread of diseases but it also encourages exploitation of small scale poultry farmers.
The other gap identified arises from the Animal breeding policies which Dr. Kyarisiima, says focuses on mainly cattle and ignores strategies for the conservation of poultry genetic resources. Of particular interest here is the local Ugandan chicken which is facing extinction because of uncontrolled cross breeding.
“In the recent past, this has been accelerated by the introduction of the Indian Kuroiler chickens. The local chicken has several invaluable attributes that are not found in exotic chickens. It fits into the traditional low input/low output farming systems on which most rural households depend. There is need to develop a specific poultry breeding policy to control importation of new genetic material, regulate poultry breeding, and conserve the local poultry genetic resources.” She advised.
Dr. Constantine Katongole training farmers on Poultry Nutrition in another location at teh MUARIK Feedmill
10 years ago, the poultry expert said, bureaucrats in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry (MAAIF) formulated the Animal Feed Policy intended to ensure that dealers in animal feeds supply quality feeds to farmers. However, it has never been implemented. For unknown reasons, Dr.Kyarisiima said the Animal Feed Bill which is supposed to operationalize the policy has never been passed by parliament.
“Absence of laws for governing the operations of feed suppliers and dealers in ingredients of animal feeds has resulted in mushrooming roadside feed mills and gross adulteration of feedstuffs. Anybody can start a feed shed, people mix sand with fish, rice husks in maize bran and it is non-professionals running the industry but nobody is bothered”. Dr. Kyarisiima noted.
Dr. Kyarissima also observed that the existing policies on economic liberalization have increased farmers’ access to drugs and other farm inputs without putting emphasis on quality control, especially with regard to poultry farm inputs. “In the spotlight are the poultry feeds. Specific domestic and international poultry marketing policies also need to be developed so as to regulate cross border trade, and to control poultry diseases”, The don emphasised.
Prof. Bashaasha and the Managing Director Monitor Publications Tony Glencross during the function
Dr. Kyarisiima said much as there is advocacy for relevant policies, it is important to note that good laws which are accompanied by weak enforcement are no laws. For effective enforcement, both the public and law enforcement agencies must be sensitized. Also, the law enforcement agencies must be facilitated to do their work. For instance, according to the Animals Prevention of Cruelty Act (1957), cruelty to animals is forbidden; but cruelty to cattle, goats, pigs and poultry is seen on our roads every day.
“Lack of enforcement is a big challenge. This act forbids cruelty for animals but we see poultry mistreated hanged on boda-bodas and taxis passing by police not bothered. When transported by boda-boda, chicken get injuries and the farmers loose”. The don lamented.
In order to address factors which affect poultry farming from outside the farm environment Dr. Kyarisiima called upon poultry farmers to form strong associations to take on the responsibility of lobbying and advocacy.
A section of the participants at the opening
Story compiled by:
Communication Officer, CAES