By Prossy Nandudu
Livestock farmers interested in a particular breed of cows or goats usually for beef or milk production, can now get that into their indigenous cows, through the community breeding program.
With increase in milk production, farmers will be in position to sell, process some or even export dairy products for increased incomes.
Because the Africa Livestock Status projections for 2050, show a growing, affluent and urbanized population that will be in need of high-value food products, including livestock products.
According to a report authored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Meat and milk consumption will increase by over 180% and 550% between 2010 and 2050, to 2.5 and 6.5 million tons respectively surpassing growth in human population.
Current consumption of livestock products is low, averaging no more than 2.5 kilos per year per person for any type of meat, and 54 litres of milk.
In response to the growing demand for animal source foods, commercial farms as well as livestock keeping households of which over 80% keep few animals, farmers will have to invest in productivity enhancing technologies and sell surplus production to consumers.
For farmers to tap into the growing demand of livestock products, Dr Henry Mulindwa in charge of the community breeding program at the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI), said that the program is an animal breeding strategy for smallholder farmers to improve livestock breeds.
He explained that the program is targeting local/indigenous livestock breeds that can also be used in livestock crossbreeding programs. And during cross breeding, is when desired traits in animals by a farmer, are passed onto another, resulting into a better breed.
Through the program,government is promoting crossing local animals, to F1-50% and F 2-75% which can produce 12 and 18 liters of milk per day respectively.
With F1 a farmer with good management gets 1.5 million Uganda shillings per animal per year. Six Cows of 75% dairy crosses earns more than 20million a year from milk
Before the program was introduced, Mulindwa said that farmers used to sell off the fastest growing animals when young because it would maximize immediate income.
But this is no longer the case because under the program, farmers are trained to choose and keep animals with good qualities to promote good genetic improvement, explained Mulindwa.
He explained that the program is targeting livestock low-input systems with farmers within geographical areas of farmers, having a common interest of working together for the improvement of their genetic resources.
Once fully implemented, it is projected to increase the country’s earnings from livestock alone. For example, livestock currently contributes about 4% of the total gross domestic product (GDP) and 16 % to the agricultural sector’s GDP in 2019/20.
In 2019, Uganda had about 14.8 million cattle, 16.9 million goats, 43.1 million poultry, 4.4 million pigs and 4.7 million sheep, according to a policy brief from the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development.
That way, the government will have increased incomes starting with the household all the way to national level, as envisioned in the 2021-2026 NRM manifesto.
In the manifesto, the NRM government wants to translate the economic growth and development by helping Ugandans to take advantage of the infrastructure like roads, electricity and ICT to create jobs that put money into people’s pockets, food on the table, ensure savings for the future and investment in income-generating activities.
In line with that goal, the government has identified four sectors for job creation which include Commercial agriculture, Industrialization, Services and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Of this, a community breeding program lies in the commercialization of agriculture, that will not only create jobs but increase the productivity of the livestock sector hence earning farmers’ incomes first at household level.
How the program works
Mulindwa explained that breeding involves farmers and scientists who evaluate different breeding options before deciding on the management of livestock.
“For example, farmers in a community might work out agreements on the use and exchange of sires (male animal parents used for breeding), a critical component that has historically been missing from other breeding program models for developing countries,” Mulindwa explained.
Where is it working?
He explained further that NaLIRRI has developed and tested community-based breeding strategies for resource poor goat owners in Karamoja (Nakapiripit district: Namalu and Lolachat sub-county) and Hoima (Buseruka sub-county).
Training of farmers
For the program to be a success, farmers were also trained to learn how to select improved breeds through by retaining fast-growing animals for breeding purposes rather than selling them young.
The other training is aimed at pooling community flocks to create a large gene pool from which elite breeding male animals can be selected.
The other trains were in the setting up of a recording system to monitor the performance of individual animals and pedigree, leading to continuous genetic improvement, Systematic exchange of selected elite breeding males among the CBBP members to minimize the benefits.
Because it involves some technical aspects, Mulindwa said that the community activities into the breeding program are being backed up by scientists.
“CBBP is catalytic in nature and is engrossed in integrating scientific information and approaches with traditional management practices to help farmers make the right decisions and, ultimately, reach their breeding goals,” he added.
What has been the impact?
Mulindwa added that the program has far established itself in Hoima district and is currently being used as a source of elite breeding stock especially the Mubende goat breed.
It has also contributed to the reduction in negative selection where culling of elite animals when young and retaining on farms poor quality animals for breeding purposes.
In terms of incomes, Mulindwa explained CBBP members are linked to potential buyers of breeding stock. Through the linkage, project farmers have been able to sell breeding stock at a higher premium from 100,000 at the local market to 250,000- 300,000/= when as breeding stock
He added that following the registered success in areas where CBBP were piloted in Uganda, the CBBP approach is being proposed to be integrated into the country’s national livestock plan.
The National Livestock Productivity Improvement Project (NLPIP) is a government intervention under the Livestock Industry designed to contribute to the overall government policy of poverty reduction to attain the UN Millennium Development Goals for the country.