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Swine Fever, FMD Almost Brought Livestock Sector To Its Knees In 2022

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By Joshua Kato

Due to the losses suffered by pig producers in the country caused by an outbreak of African Swine Fever, in 2022, Uganda’s pig sector came under a very difficult time.

“I lost my entire stock of 20 breeding sows due to Swine fever in June last year,” says Boaz Musoke, a farmer in Kasengejje, Wakiso district. Several other large, small and medium scale farms were affected too.

According to Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) statistics, the country has about 5.5 million pigs. According to Food and Agriculture (FAO), the average Ugandan consumption of meat is 14kgs and out of this pork constitutes 3.5kgs of pork each per year, making it the second highest after beef which is 6kgs. Other meats include chicken, goats meat and fish.  

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics Livestock Survey, Wakiso, Mukono, Bushenyi, parts of Teso and Masaka districts are one of the largest pig producing districts in Uganda with at least more than half of the entire pig stock of 5million pigs found here, on medium and large scale pig farms.  The outbreak had been going on at a low level but intensified in the middle of 2022 and has continued through the end of the year. It is expected to continue into 2023, unless measures are taken to stop it.  

“It wiped out piggeries in Wakiso, Mukono, Masaka, parts of Bushenyi etc, though actual numbers of losses are not known, but several large piggery commercial farms were affected too,” Christopher Mulindwa, the managing director, Pig Production and Marketing Uganda LTD, a pig keeper, piggery farming trainer says.

In January and February at least 700pigs were reported killed by ASF in Otuke, according to district Veterinary Officer Dr Benson Omara. In West Nile, 300 pigs were reported dead according to Arua district veterinary officer Dr Willy Nguma.

Hundreds of deaths were reported in Masaka, Teso, Wakiso and even Kampala.

“But in most cases, farmers do not report the outbreaks but instead quickly sell off the pigs for pork,” Mulindwa says, adding that this is a very dangerous trend because it only increases the prevalence of the disease.

Dr Emma Naluyima, a veterinary officer, pig farmer and trainer at the Harvest Money Expo says that the first appearance of African swine fever in an area or farm is usually characterised by death of a large number of pigs after a short illness. Pigs become depressed and suddenly stop eating, huddle together and sometimes may die before other clinical signs develop. The pig spends most of its time lying down, difficulty in breathing and flushing of the skin, particularly on the abdomen and skin scratches in white-skinned pigs, commonly develop in pigs that survive for more than a day. Pigs of all ages are affected.

How outbreak occurs

– Close contact between domestic and infected wild pigs 

– Introduction of infected pigs into a farm, for example, through purchase. Solution is not to buy pigs at the moment.  

– Introduction of infected pig meat into the farm. Stop any of your workers from eating pork on or off the farm.

– Feeding of swill that contains raw or insufficiently cooked infected pork and pig remains or access to such remains through scavenging. At the moment, farmers should not get any leftover foods from food eateries.  Feed using processed feeds, leaves from the garden.

– Movement of vehicles and people between farms during an outbreak

– Movement of stray dogs, scavengers and other animals between farms during an outbreak. This can be reduced through fencing off the farm.

-Using equipment from infected farms African Swine Fever has the ability to exist on surfaces for several years. 

Tomorrow, we shall look at how FMD impacted the livestock sector

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