By Hope Abonit
The increasing demand for livestock and poultry products such as milk, meat and eggs due to the growing population, external markets, and income and urbanization has driven many farmers to supplement on their livestock feeds with concentrates to improve on their productivity. The Minister of state for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Joy Kabatasi says that animal feeds provides opportunities for stimulating agro-industrial investments, value addition, reducing post-harvest losses and increasing shelf life of agricultural products.
The annual production of compounded feeds by the commercial feed millers is estimated at about 150,000 tons with small scale mixers producing 80,000 tones. On average, manufacturing actors produce 60%, 30%, and 10% of poultry, cattle and pig feeds, respectively. However, the minister says that they are faced with serious problems related to availability of well formulated and balanced rations for adequate livestock feeding. She says despite an abundance of cereal grains, and their bi-products such as maize, sorghum, millet, rice bran and root crops, e.g. cassava, as energy concentrates as well as protein concentrates such as soybeans, sunflower cakes, cottonseed cakes, peas and groundnuts, farmers have continued to lament about the high prices of commercial feeds and poor quality feeds. The liberalization of the feed market has allowed many small processors to penetrate the market supplying the compounded feeds to farmers. Whereas emergence and growth of small scale feed producers in the chain have induced changes in feed value chains providing small producers with opportunities, still there have been new challenges into the compounded feeds value chain.
The livestock production constitutes an important sub-sector of Uganda’s agriculture contributing about 4.4% of Gross Domestic Product and 18% of Agricultural Domestic Gross Product. However, challenges notwithstanding, the annual growth of the livestock sector has been maintained at 2.5-3% for close a decade. It is also an integral part of the agricultural system in many parts of the country and also plays an important role in many families in Uganda, including raising household incomes, social status and contributing to food security. The estimated current livestock population consists of 14.031 million cattle, 15.311 million goats, 4.198 million sheep, 3.916 million pigs and 45.144 million poultry.
Mrs Kabatsi added that there are some challenges for instance lack of quality regulation and certification which has resulted in supply of poor quality feeds to livestock farmers hence low productivity reported, leaving farmers to resort to formulating homemade feeds despite the glaring lack of knowledge about feed formulation and animal requirements. She assured that the government’s intervention will see the provision of a regulatory framework for the manufacture, importation, labeling, advertising, distribution and sale of animal feeds and also to provide other related or incidental matters. This will enforce the registration of all persons, partnerships, firms, corporations, or associations engaged in the manufacture, importation, sale or distribution of animal feeds in Uganda.