By Irene Abalo Otto
The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has issued a stun warning that nomadism in Uganda must stop because it does not improve on the quality of animals for commercial purposes.
While addressing district leaders, UPDF generals and pastoralists commonly known as Balaalo, Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja said nomadism was ancient.
“In Botswana, a cow can weigh 200kgs and more in two years, yet in Uganda, it takes more than six years. With this, when shall Uganda ever move towards exporting meat or other dairy products at commercial level?” he asked.
He said that if Ugandans want to rear animals, they must buy land and use modern techniques of rearing quality animals whose products can contribute to economic development of the country.
Currently, pastoralists hire land from land owners for a specific period of time and move after their agreement expires.
“Nomadism must stop. If you want animal husbandry, follow modern and up-to-date procedures. Buy land and plan well. You don’t need to roam around the whole country looking for pasture, I hear some of them are crossing to South Sudan,” Ssempijja said.
The Minister also said that people should be educated to adopt modern animal husbandry to benefit and upgrade their lives.
“This is your wealth and that of the country too. Uganda has about 14million cattle but cannot even export meat to other countries because we can’t meet the standard. We don’t feed them well,” the minister explained.
He also noted that science has made cattle rearing more commercially viable for those who are willing to invest in the animals.
“People must be educated to stop the primitive methods of cattle keeping. We can’t continue to live like our ancestors. We have enough artificial insemination semen and the scientist now have semen to produce females only so that your cattle can multiply faster and give other dairy products as well,” he said.
On 24th October 2017, President Yoweri Museveni issued a directive to the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry to ensure that all the Balaalo with their cattle leave Northern Uganda. `
Gulu district LCV Chairman Martin Ojara Mapenduzi had earlier last year warned that if these people do not leave the community where their cattle were destroying crops and causing conflicts among families, the region would experience famine and insecurity.
The Minister of Agriculture together with Gulu district Security Committees and other leaders agreed that the nomads must leave before the 15th March, 2018 after vaccination of their cattle to avoid animal disease spreading in areas as they move.
Currently, there is an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 27 districts and the government is in the process of vaccinating over 150,000 cattle in Northern Uganda and about 100,000 shall then leave the region back to where the pastoralists brought them from.
The pastoralists in Northern Uganda are mainly from Kyankwanzi, Kiryandongo, Luwero and Bushenyi among other districts.