02 December 2021, Uganda: A CABI-led project advocating a ‘One Health’ approach to crop and livestock services in Uganda has been highlighted at a webinar on animal welfare hosted by the World Animal Protection Foundation (WTS).
Christine Alokit, CABI Communication and Extension Scientist based in Uganda, told stakeholders attending the online event that the ‘Joint crop and livestock services for smallholder farmers in Uganda’ project – funded by the Biovision Foundation – promotes cross-learning among agriculture and veterinary staff and among farmers in aspects of crop and animal vectors and diseases.
She was speaking in recognition that smallholder farmers not only grow crops but also rear animals and that the benefits of joint service delivery provides enhanced knowledge and awareness of farmers on the inter-dependence of crops and livestock for productivity, health and food safety.
The project – which has been delivered in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Makerere University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and BioSecurity (COVAB) and the District Local Governments of the four districts in Uganda (Mukono, Luwero, Buikwe and Kayung) – also suggests that the benefits of a joint approach include shared resources such as transport, staff planning and training together.
Ms Alokit added that records on farmers’ crop and animal queries presented at the joint clinic have been digitized, providing valuable data to map crop and livestock problems, understand farmers’ demand for knowledge and technologies, and to support planning and follow up activities.
The integrated crop-livestock advisory service model, developed by CABI and partners, builds upon CABI’s 15-years’ experience of providing plant health information through Plantwise plant clinics.
The joint clinics and consultations seek to broaden the scope of existing plant clinics to help better meet the farmers’ needs for agricultural advice, thus contributing to the overall goal of improving the health and livelihoods of smallholder farming families in East Africa.
The project builds upon a previous study to assess demand for livestock services during plant clinic sessions in selected countries including Kenya and Uganda.
Ms Alokit said, “We have learnt that these joint clinics serve as key information point for farmers with regard to animal management including preventive measures. Animal welfare is a central part of their management. Welfare assessment would bring out key knowledge gaps that would guide the project to build farmers’ knowledge and skills – leading to improved animal welfare and safer food for all.”
She added that: “Welfare protocols need to be pragmatic taking into consideration the different production systems, different animal species reared and the resource constraint faced by smallholder farmers that form the main food basket for the nation.”
Joint crop-livestock clinics/consultation centres are now operational in the project’s four districts and, since their launch in April, over 500 farmers (~40% female), inclusive of repeat visits, have visited between April and mid-September 2021.
The main crops and plants taken to the clinics include bananas, coffee, cocoa, tomato, other cereals and fruits and vegetables as well as some diseased tree samples. For livestock advice, farmers have taken cattle, chickens, pigs and goats. Other animals such as rabbits, turkeys and pets (cats and dogs) were also taken to the joint clinics for advice on vectors, feeding or shelter.
Various queries have been received on health, feeds and feeding, housing and some have consulted on how to start and manage a poultry or piggery family business, Ms Alokit told participants of the webinar.