Livestock farmers from the ten districts within Disease Control zones 1 and 2 of the cattle corridor of Isingiro, Masindi, Kiruhura, Lyantonde, Mubende, Kibaale, Nakaseke, Kyakyanzi, Masindi, Kiryadongo and Nakasongola  have undergone a two weeks intensive hands on training  on the production of climate smart supplementary feeding to increase beef production in Uganda.

Dr. Joachim Idibu training farmers on construction the feed lot structure in Wakiso

The training was organized under the Promote Supplementary Feeding (SUPPL-F) project with the collaboration of Robran Holdings Limited (RHL), the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences(CAES), The Green Elephant (TGE), the Livestock Development Program (LDF) and Orchid House Farm Nakasongola.

Promote Supplementary Feeding project project is part of a European Union (EU) grant (under the 11th European Development Fund) extended to the Government of Uganda to a programme known as “Developing a Market-Oriented and Environmentally Sustainable Beef Meet Industry in Uganda (MOBIP)”.implemented by the Directorate of Animal Resources (DAR) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

 The programme awarded Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and her six partners to implement a EUR 715,299 focusing on farmers’ access to and utilization of supplementary feeds for purposes of fattening animals for the Market.

Prof. Denis Mpairwe during the training

The trainees included   farm managers of large-scale beef farmers (referred to as Nucleus farmers which are to be demonstration farms) linked to the implementation of the PSFU MOBID project. The participants also included Trainers of Trainers (TOTS) mainly Small – scale beef producers and women and youth entrepreneurs recruited by the project and currently engaged in similar or related activities in the participating districts.

The intention of this training is to make sure that the TOTs and Farm managers are well equipped to   act as ambassadors to pass on the knowledge and skills to small – holder farmers for use in their respective districts thus promoting supplementary feeding.

Theoretical and practical training in the laboratory were conducted at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo marked by field demonstrations at Robran Holdings Limited (RHL) facility in Buwanuka in Wakiso District .

The two weeks training covered aspects of business development services for supplementary feeding and beef production, beef production and management systems in Uganda, Beef cattle feeding, fodder grasses and legume production, forage conservation and pasture seed production and marketing. Others were planning for feedlot set up site selection and construction of a feedlot for fattening animals, record and data management, exposure to different machinery and equipment used in feeds, raw material value addition, making hay, silage and Mutlinutrient Urea Blocks.

Farmers undergoing theoretical training at MUARIK

Sharing with participants on the status of the beef industry Dr. Mukasa Mugerwa,  Veterinarian and retired Senior servant and an educator  said, Uganda has 14 . 9 million livestock but the country is not getting enough products to meet the requirements of her growing population.

“So the idea is, we need to change the way we manage livestock from being low input to low output extensive grazing systems to high input but more sedentary intensive feedlot system in order to increase productivity per animal from fewer number of animals”. Dr. Mugerwa said

Dr. Mugerwa noted that most of the animals that provide beef are produced in the arid parts of the country but the laws governing how those resources are used are still ambiguous.

He  observed that as income improves, there will be demand for quality beef hence, the need to help farmers to be able   to access technologies that will enable them  produce better beef from their units for which the consumers are going to pay a good price .

Mr. Daniel Ojiambo of PSFU overseeing the training in Wakiso at Robran holdings

The Project Manager PSFU Mr. Daniel Ojiambo said the objective of the Supplementary Feeding project is to increase access of the supplementary feeding among the beef value chain players in Uganda in the ten selected districts. The project according to Mr. Ojiambo works with ranches and small holder framers organized in farmer groups.

“Such farmers are the essence  of what our initial thought was. PSFU thought that small holder farmers can contribute to the bulk of production which will meet the demand that is aspired for.

We are responding to three challenges -one is drought. During drought, farmers in the cattle corridor lack water and feeds and are forced to sell their animals at a give  away  price and a case in point is  in Nakasongala where a fully grown animal goes for shs. 100,000 simply because the farmer lacked water and feeds. So, we want to respond to such a challenge by showing a farmer how to make, reserve feeds and feed animals and demand for good prices”. Mr. Ojiambo explained.

Farmers making silage

The second challenge being responded to according to PSFU project manager is the environmental impact wherein the rangeland trees are constantly being cut down and farms are not coping with huge chunks of land being cordoned off for farming.

“It is very important that farmers know that even if they do not have square miles of land, they can still produce as much as a person with many square miles using the trick of going intensive beef production through having a feedlot system where you put several animals in a small space and feed them appropriately and fetch more profit.

The other situation PSFU is responding to is the gender sensitivity witnessed in the cattle corridor. Women and youth are sidelined in the beef value chain with minimal contribution because of the norms, customs and traditions and have no say in the production system.  So, we are trying to tell them that women can contribute in production on farms through engaging in feed making, hay silage and other related products to change their mindset” Ojiambo explained.

Mr. Ojiambo added that   PSFU main focus is on the market beyond domestic and to ensure that farmers can be able to identify markets that can appreciate the quality farmers are bringing on board.

A section of farmers in class at MUARIK

He noted that Uganda has a different playground when it comes to beef production and marketing. The meat of the cattle corridor he said, finds itself to the abattoirs in Kampala and other towns but farmers are cheated through various channels and don’t get value for the efforts put in. 

He said PSFU will ensure that each district gets a nucleus farmer who has a ranch and good operating standards which the small holder farmers can copy and replicate. 

“As we do this, we get an extension worker who will train small holder farmers and train in various technologies being promoting and eventually do joint marketing as well. The nucleus farmer will take the initiative of looking for the market for small holders and guarantee that a small holder farmer is able to sell their products “. The project manager added.

The Managing Director Roblin Holdings Ltd. Mr. Brian Natwijuka -an enterprise involved in pasture farming, management and distribution to farmers said, the consortium came together  to promote the utilization of  crop residues, planted pastures  and turning them into high quality animal feeds like hay and silage.

Construction of Feedlot structure by farmers in progress

“Within the project we are also promoting beef farming and in that we are promoting the feeding of beef animals indoors (feedlot technology) and in this, we have to teach people how to make feeds like hay, silage, making concentrates and nutritious animal blocks, how to construct structures and taking care of animals.

The whole intention is, if you confine the animals indoors (in feedlot that normally takes four months) we have to make sure that we utilize the potential of the animals to add weight”, Mr Natwijuka stated.

This he said, can be done by making sure that   there are feeds, and animals confined not to move and burn calories. In areas where the feedlot technology has been practiced, it has been found that an animal is capable of earning a kilogram per day through good feeding and management practices.

Though this project, Robran is establishing a training center open to the rest of the country  for demonstration and training on livestock supplementary feeding.

Article compiled by:
Jane Anyango,
Principal Communication Officer,
Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, CAES

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