In the past few years, there has been a lot of discomfort from the livestock sector over fake and ineffective acaricides that has led to livestock losses in different parts of the country.
In addition, there have been severe animal disease outbreaks like Rift valley fever, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic fever, anthrax, brucellosis, Avian Influenza and others in different parts of the country like Isingiro district that has led to long term ban on transportation of animals to markets outside the districts, which has led to economic losses.
Some senior Veterinarians have blamed the current chaos in the livestock sector on misuse of medicines, lack of information by farmers and negligence by government to ensure that the sector is run effectively.
Dr. Oboth Ochola Godfrey, a private veterinary surgeon and the CEO of Asiima Agriconcern Limited who is also the treasurer of Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA), said the current acaricide resistance ticks and other Animal medicines that are no longer effective as claimed by farmers, is not because of fake medicines on the market but due to misuse of these medicines by the farmers.
“Farmers are doing self-medication on their animals mainly to cut on costs, and because veterinary services are scarce in villages. You find someone under dozing or overdosing for a long time until the ticks and worms get used to the medicines and cannot be affected by them hence becoming resistant to them,” he said.
He further noted that Government has so much privatized the sector and does not make follow ups on what medicines are on the market, who is using them and for what.
“Because of privatization of the Veterinary services, there has a gap in testing, zoning and directing information to help in performance. This work is supposed to be done by the ministry of agriculture but now private farmers do their own testing as Veterinary field visits are no longer happening” he said.
He urged government to go back to the basics and be responsible for zoning and testing if it wants to help farmers do gainful livestock farming.
“Even in animal disease control, government is only in charge of vaccinating diseases like foot and mouth, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic fever; leaving diseases like Brucellosis, Anthrax, Nagana, that have been common in Kiruhura and Arua and other parts to the private sector which cannot handle. Government should take charge of more disease control by putting up a special budget for the sector to grow” he said.
Veterinarian Abu Mayanja, who is also the vice finance manager at UVA urged farmers to take charge of their livestock businesses and make use of veterinarians if they are to control the adamant diseases.
“As a farmer, you cannot look at an animal and know what it is suffering from; the medicine and dosage to give. That is why more cattle are dying because farmers are overdosing or under-dozing them. Even if you want to cut on the budget by eliminating the technical person, the losses by that come by not using specialized veterinarians is bigger than what you would actually spend on them” he said.
He further blamed government for underscoring the importance of veterinary services in the development of the livestock sector hence the many challenges in the sector.
” We do not receive transport facilitation, no allowances, the pay is poor and we work in very fragile conditions. That is why most veterinarians are now moving into private business living the public to suffer. Government needs to rethink the importance of veterinary in supporting livestock farmers to produce enough Safe and quality products to feed the growing Uganda population but also the economy” he said.
This was during the UVA annual general meeting and symposium that kicked off yesterday Thursday and will end today Friday at Kabira country club.
This year’s meeting is behind held under the theme, “The veterinary profession and Uganda’s Economy; Unveiling the potential. It seeks to highlight the major contribution that a well facilitated veterinary service delivery system can play towards the national economy.
The veterinarians believe that have a big role to play if livestock farmers are to produce quality and quality animal products for the national a d international market and if government is to achieve is aspirations of rural development as enshrined in the development frameworks