Basing on a household survey panel data, the food and agriculture organization (FAO) statistics and qualitative data from field visits to dairy-producing districts in Uganda, milk yields per cow have declined over time.
Findings also show that milk productivity has been severely constrained by increased multi-acaricide tick resistance, low uptake of high-grade improved exotic cattle, inadequate dairy extension services, and limited investment in feed resources to supplement natural pastures.
Talking to Journalist at the 8th national forum on agriculture and food security conference in Kampala on June 11, Dr Ben Ssenkeera, veterinary inspector Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) said ticks have become increasingly resistant to multiple acaricides, causing the death of high-yielding exotic cattle and increasing farmers’ expenditure on acaricides
According to one dairy farmer from Kiruhura District, he lost 9 exotic animals on one year as a result of multi-acaricides tick resistance (EPRC field visit, December 2018).
“The problem of acaricide failure has forced many dairy farmers to misuse acaricides in search of quick solutions to tick-related illnesses. A key informant interview with a dairy cooperatives in western Uganda revealed that dairy farmers have resorted to using Dudu (a plant herbicide) and lava (a pesticide for bedbugs) to fight ticks,” a report from MAAIF.
“It’s therefore important that the government improve enforcement of acaricides quality by increasing the staffing levels and the facilitation budget for both the Uganda National bureau of standards (UNBS) and the production departments in districts” says Dr Ssenkeera.
MAAIF urges that the government should boots extension service provision at the district level to train farmers in better livestock practices which will increase on the productivity of livestock products and also improved income earning for the country.
A report read by Francis Mwesigye from economic policy Research centre says that livestock contributes approximately 9% of Gross Domestic Product and 17.3% of agriculture GDP. The sub-sector is also a source of livelihood for approximately 4.5 million people in the country (UBOS 2015).
Cattle are the major livestock in Uganda and contributes approximately 74% of the country’s total livestock census, a quarter of Uganda households (nearly 1.7 million) own cattle, an estimated 14.2 million cattle (UBOS, 2017).
The dairy enterprise is an important sub-sector of Ugandans livestock sector both for food security and employment, and as source of foreigner exchange researchers reveals
“The sub-sector contributes up to 50% of the livestock GDP (FAQ, 2011) and was predicted to fetch US$150 million in export earnings in 2018 (SNV,2018). And this would make the dairy subsector the second largest agricultural export commodity from Uganda after coffee (Ibid),” said Mwesigye.
In addition, the dairy sub-sector presents a huge potential for promoting agro industrializations in Uganda according to economic policy research centre.
Mwesigye adds that despite the national importance of livestock sector, the sector annual growth significantly declined from 2.9 per cent 2014/15 to 1.6 per cent 2016/17.
“Given the importance of milk as a key strategic commodity for the accelerated development of the agriculture sector, this policy note highlights the factors constraining milk yield among dairy households in Uganda”
Performance of the dairy sectors in Uganda
Over the last decade, Uganda’s dairy sectors has registered impressive growth in total milk production, milk output increased more than two-fold, from 0.75 billion litters in 2002 to 1.6 billion litters by 2016 (FAOSTAT,2018).
However, most of the growth in total milk output is explained by an increase in milk-producing animals rather than yield improvement.
By George Piwang