Animal scientists call for a policy to protect Range lands
Animal scientist at Makerere University College of agricultural and Environmental Sciences are advocating for a rangeland management policy to protect and guide the use of rangelands.
According to Dr. Denis Mpairwe, unlike the olden days when rangelands were inhabitable and solely used for livestock, social and economic factors have seen many of rangelands depleted and occupied for settlement and other economic gains.
“Most livestock in the country that is goats sheep cattle are concentrated in the range land and cover 43% of the country and in Uganda the livestock contributes 17% of the GDP. That is why we need a policy for it because it is where we get milk, beef hides and skins and life animals for sale.” Dr. Mpairwe said.
He also said the need for a policy is based on the fact rangelands are now becoming very important economically for settlement following high population pressures in arable land and realization that they have oil and major source of fuel used in urban areas.
“For example all charcoal used in Kampala comes from range lands and in the process interfering with the system. So you have to control and we need a policy to protect them, if not, we are heading for catastrophe like in Ethiopia where they cut all the trees it became bear, people have no fuel for cooking and they exposed land to erosion and suffered the consequences.” He warned.
He said, despite the good policies in place, Uganda is constrained by poor implementation mechanism. He attributes this shortfall on modern democracy which he said cannot work in a society where people need to be forced to do the right things. “In my opinion we are trying to follow modern democracy which we have not reached because we don’t have recipe for it. The recipe for democracy is that you must have a fully educated society and in Uganda our problem is lack of an educated society not defined by a number of degrees, but that lack of understanding that when I throw a polythene paper, rubbish or cut tress anyhow, I am spoiling the environment and so, one must be forced to do some things which is not democracy”.
He urged Ugandans to learn from Ethiopia’s bad experience and emulate Rwanda success stories if they are to benefit from the natural resources. Dr. Denis Mpairwe was speaking to third year agriculture students during a practical field trip lesson on range management and beef production on Betar Ranchers in Mubende district on April 21,2012.
He implored students to reflect on previous theories in first, second and third years and note the type of breeds on the farm. He also reminded them of the four things in management namely feeds and feeding, breeds and breeding, animal health and welfare and farm economics as well as essential features on a ranch which include land, farm houses, workers and water distribution.