Mak-RIF Pig AI Technology proposal well received in Wakiso District

Participants posing for a group photo after the training

Farmers, technicians and district staff in Wakiso have expressed readiness to implement the Makerere University proposal to improve the piggery sector by upscaling the Pig Artificial Insemination Technology (AI) and improved genetics funded by Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund (Mak-RIF).

A multi-disciplinary research team from Makerere University working on the project titled, “Integrating Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Elite Pig Genetics to transform the Pig Value Chain in Uganda”, on 18th March, 2020 held a consultative meeting with piggery farmers, veterinary officers and AI technicians at Wakiso District headquarters.

Mak-RIF Pig AI project team , Dr. Anena Catherine, Mr. Robert Natumanya, Dr. Donal R Kugonza, Ms. Lydia Magala and Dr. Gideon Nadiope

The project was conceived by a team of five including Assoc. Prof. Donald Rugira Kugonza (PI) from the Department of Agricultural Production, School of Agricultural Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). Others are Dr. Anena Catherine Pauline from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Dr. Gideon Nadiope Director, IOWA State University –Uganda Program (ISU-UP), Lydia Magala from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and Mr. Robert Natumanya the AI expert from the Department of Agricultural Production, School of Agricultural Sciences (CAES).

The project idea was to upscale the previous initiatives on promoting pig AI technology in Uganda by helping farmers, maintaining the Boer stud at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK), collecting semen and sending to farmers.

When the Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund (Mak-RIF) was provided by Government of Uganda, the team was empowered. The innovation was fronted to improve on the boer stud at MUARIK, stock new breeds of boers, reach out to farmers in three districts of Kamuli, Luweero and Wakiso with the objective of continuing to build their capacity on how to feed, house, control diseases but most importantly to improve on breeding.

On 18th March 2020, the team brought the same gospel from Luweero and Kamuli to engage farmers in Wakiso district to better select the boers they use from the five breeds availed at Makerere University farm.

Dr. Donald Kugonza showing the improved plastic semen storage bag during the presentation

Under the Mak-RIF program, the semen is going to be available initially at no cost to the farmer because government agreed to pay for 200 doses (shs. 6m for the service fee of the service providers). Another shs. 5m was provided to prepare and transport semen. Another 700-800 doses of semen will be free up to the districts apart from the cost for the inseminator. The other project outcome will be capacity building and engaging AI service providers and technicians for training.

The Project Principal Investigator Dr. Donald Rugira Kugonza said, the  major aim of the meeting in Wakiso was to sensitize piggery farmers on the project objective  and see whether it is in line with the farmers’ objectives.

“… and thank God one of the outcome was a consensus on most of the things. The only thing we are not in consensus was whether to train new technicians as per the project proposal or retain the existing ones. So what they are saying, they do not need new trained people but discuss with the trained technicians on the challenges faced at work and support them with equipment”. Dr. Kugonza said.

The District Veterinary Officer Dr. Kirembe Gerald introduces the Mak teamto the District Production officer at a courtesy call

This according to the PI is to be discussed with the project team and also consult with the Mak-RIF as the target will shift from having 20 new trainees to retooling the existing ones. Under the previous initiatives, Makerere University conducted five trainings for AI technicians in Wakiso district. Currently, the district has more than 20 technicians who have been promoting AI technology.

“The outputs of the meeting was to get a buy-in of the community, they were excited and we got them waiting. And we had extra people than we invited. We had 30% more than we invited. We can say the pig AI program was well received in Wakiso. We are looking forward to implementation which has begun.

We are ready to serve, the farmers are ready, they have spoken, the AI technicians and district staff are ready and Makerere University and project implementing partners ready”, Dr. Kugonza expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the meeting.

Dr. Kirembe Gerald speaking during the opening session

Wakiso District Veterinary Officer Dr. Gerald Kirembe said a significant population of about 45% in Wakiso district is involved in piggery production and consumption.

The limiting factors in pig production according to Dr. Kirembe include diseases especially African swine fever, high costs of inputs and lack of capital, feed price fluctuation, lack of good quality breeding stock, poor marketing, among others.

The Veterinary Doctor however said the district has been collaborating with Makerere University to promote pig farming since 2014 adding that there was some progress on the ground.

“Recently, the Makerere University came up with the idea of AI and nutrition of piglets, trained a number of technicians to promote AI in pigs and some of the trainees got equipment. We thank those who have been participating in delivering services to our farmers”, Dr. Kirembe said

He pledged the district commitment to continue working with the university and other partners describing the days meeting as an experiences sharing on pig production in the district.

“The program was one but activities are still continuing with farmers and local government. Makerere University has come back with another angle to share a new package for us” He noted.

Dr. Gideon Nadiope advising farmers on the piggery enterprise

Mak-RIF Pig AI teammate from the Civil Society Organization and National Director IOWA State University-Uganda Program Dr. Gideon Nadiope said, pork consumption rate in Uganda was increasing and therefore the need to increase on the number of pigs.

Citing IOWA State USA farmers where the number of pigs produced is five times the population (3 million people) to meet the market demand, Dr. Gideon told participants that the enterprise is well developed due to good genetics and good feeding practices.

Dr. Gideon said piggery industry is fast growing and should be taken as a big enterprise for employment opportunities, livelihood improvement and supplementation of protein nutrition.

“In IOWA, the biggest enterprise is pig production. Besides keeping pigs, farmers produce maize and soybean from which they get byproducts like oil and mixed brands to feed pigs. They rear elite breeds with little fat thickness, short hooves that can withstand weight and faster growing breeds that buildup to 100 kg in three months”. Dr. Gideon explained.

Mr. Robert Natumanya responds to some of the questions raised by the participants

Dr. Nadiope advised farmers to always use professional veterinary doctors in case of disease outbreaks cautioning against reliance on vet drug shops and administering drugs in pigs without proper diagnosis or else risk their animals to misdiagnosis and mis-interpretation of the diseases, signs and symptom endangering animals.

“Not every diseases is Swine fever. Use Veterinary doctors, consult technicians because they have the expertise if we are to improve pig production and productivity.

Be careful with maize brand. Avoid caked maize brand because this is the sign that it has high levels of aflatoxins that affects growth, reproduction and if consumed by humans may lead to cancer. If you are near a brewery get yeast, mix it in feed rations to help the conversion rate and pig resistance to diseases”, Dr. Nadiope advised.

He explained that yeast contains alcohol and after the animal feeding on it, it sleeps thus helping the conversion rate and increasing milk production. He also advised farmers to use potato vines as a good animal feed.

Dr. Anena Catherine speaking on the project gender aspects for consideration

The project team member and Gender specialist from Makerere University College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Anena Catherine Pauline of the School of Women and Gender Studies implored the district leaders to consider the gender aspect in selection of project beneficiaries.

Dr. Anena said, it is in the project design that women and youth are brought on board to ensure inclusive growth and development.

“The project target is both men and women. In most cases, it is difficult for women and young people to get access to information and resources. If we are to develop together we need different people on board. On this project, we want half adult and youth male and female farmers and so as you do selection, consider that”, Dr. Anena said

At household level, Dr. Anena explained that the project would like to see women and young people involved in decision making while in terms of training, the team was interested in knowing who will access the training because it has implications on quality of the project output.

Wakiso District Chief Administrative Officer listening Dr. Kugonza during a courtesy call to his office

She also advised farmers to consider forming groups, associations or a cooperative for purposes of collective price setting, marketing, accessibility to loan facilities, farm inputs and other initiatives and benefits.

Report Compiled by;
Jane Anyango
Principal Communication Officer, CAES



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