By Titus Kakembo
President Yoweri Museveni is expected to grace a marathon organised as part of the campaign to preserve the long-horned Ankole cattle.
While unveiling the run at Serena Hotel on January 5, Robert Kabatereine, the chairman of the Network of Agro-Tech Farmers, said Museveni, who has always urged herders to go commercial and add value to their harvest, will be the chief runner.
The marathon is scheduled to be flagged off at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds on January 29, 2023, according to Kabatereine.
Tickets for the marathon will be between sh20,000 and sh100,000.
“It is a national campaign and participants who have savoured its beef, sipped a cup of tea prepared using its milk, paid dowry or economically depended on it, ought to participate,” he implored.
Kabatereine said after cross-breeding, farmers have got cows producing 13 litres of milk and 500kg of beef from the initial one litre and 100kg respectively.
Kabatereine said the volume of milk and beef is being boosted scientifically without losing the original Ankole breed that is resistant to diseases and the effects of climate change.
To add value to the treasured animal, Kabatereine said they intend to exploit the export market given the high demand because it has no cholesterol and has low fat content.
We also intend to develop it into a tourism product like in South Africa where it is a crowd puller in agro-tourism,” said Kabatereine.
According to Loyce Natukunda, one of the marathon organisers, there is a lot more to the Ankole cow than horns, beef and milk.
“It is instrumental in relationships being the currency for the dowry paid to appreciate the bride’s parents. A girl with cows will not depend on men for basic requirements,” noted Natukunda.
Emmanuel Kamihingo, a senior citizen and cattle farmer who is also pushing for conservation of the Ankole breed, said it makes economic sense to rear Ankole cattle because they do not require much attention such as exotic breeds like the Friesians do.
“Hundreds of people will travel from the cattle corridor to celebrate the role of the Ankole cow in their lives through the marathon,” revealed Kamihingo.
On the market, an Ankole cow calf fetches between sh2m and sh5m.
Giving testimony of the role of cows in her life, Miss Tourism Ankole region Alice Kyasimire minced no words.
“Culturally, cows are some form of insurance and a saving scheme. In my childhood, I was given a cow that I named Alice. It became part of my family and reproduced many calves,” she recounted.