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Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda
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Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary Report (2014) - Animal Traction Report Uganda

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The Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary enables an Irish veterinary student to travel to a VIVA (Volunteers in Irish Veterinary Assistance) project for a summer placement each year. The 2014 winner was Sarah …

The Mike O'Leary Travel Bursary enables an Irish veterinary student to travel to a VIVA (Volunteers in Irish Veterinary Assistance) project for a summer placement each year. The 2014 winner was Sarah Irwin.

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  • 1. Mike O’Leary Travel Bursary 2013 Source of the Nile Agricultural Show Visit to Koile Animal Traction Projects Sarah Irwin
  • 2. In July of this year I had the great privilege of traveling to Uganda with VIVA to work with their partner organization Heifer International. Source of the Nile Agricultural Show I spent 2 days at the the 21st Annual Agricultural Show in Jinja this July. The theme this year was “Promoting Agro-technologies to Enhance Food Security and Competitiveness in the Regional Markets”. There were stands and displays from all over Uganda, everything from Artificial Insemination to stalls promoting rabbit meat. Thousands of farmers, school children and local people visited the showgrounds throughout the week. Heifer International, Uganda had a large area with lots on display from how to make gas from manure (BIOGAS), zero grazing units for goats, calves and dairy cows, organic crops and how to use oxen to plough (Animal Traction).
  • 3. I found my time at the Heifer stand very interesting, it gave me a good overview of all the areas Heifer works in. There were Heifer staff and farmers/beneficiaries available to talk to and explain displays to visitors as well as a lot of supportive materials like leaflets and booklets for visitors to take home. There were both meat (local Boer breed) and dairy (Irish Saanen breed) goats on display as well as a Friesian dairy cow and her calf. These were all housed in zero grazing units. These displays thought farmers and school children alike how this method of housing and feeding can aid easier management. Animals can be contained, their feed monitored and their droppings collected and used as organic fertiliser for crops and kitchen gardens. As the theme this year was promoting agro-technology Heifer had demonstrations on hygienic milk storage, Biogas and machinery to help chop up elephant grass. There were farmers available to talk to visitors about all these areas. Visitors seemed very interested and asked a lot of questions.
  • 4. The Biogas display drew a big crowd of both farmers and school children. Biogas is the gas produced when biodegradable material such as cow dung rots in the absence of oxygen. The gas produced can be piped to a stove for cooking or used to fuel a lamp for lighting. Not only does the system produce renewable energy in the form of gas but the slurry that remains can be used as organic fertiliser for crops. It is a win win situation!
  • 5. Koile Animal Traction Project During my second week as an Intern with Heifer I visited Koile Amora Ican Animal Traction Project in Ngora. On my visits to the farms I focused on 'The challenge of disease and Veterinary care”. Project Aims When speaking to the farmers I wanted to get an overall idea of what it means to be part of this project; the preparation, benefits, challenges etc but then to focus on the following areas: • What breed is the bull, is it a local or imported breed? • What do you feed your bull, do you use zero grazing? • Does your bull need much water each day and if so how do you source it? • How is the bull trained to pull the plough? • Which diseases most commonly affect the cattle in this area? • Do you use any preventative measures to reduce the risk of disease? • How do you deal with a sick animal, do you have veterinary support? • What are the problems/challenges you face? • In your opinion, what changes/improvements could be made?
  • 6. On my first evening in Koile I met with four of the original beneficiaries including the Chairperson James. This group formed in 2006 and joined Heifer in 2008. There are now 64 members. 64 bulls have been received through Heifer and that number has grown to an incredible 364 bulls through the practice of Passing on The Gift. This means 364 families have benefited over the last five years and are on the path from poverty to self sufficiency. I had a lot of questions racing through my head and I think my Cork accent caused a few issues at first but once we all got chatting I was very impressed by what the farmers had to tell me. A huge amount of training is undertook before farmers receive their oxen, this insures farmers are prepared and reduces the chance of future problems. Farmers partake in the following areas of training; Sanitation – Farmers are educated about the benefits of latrines and hand sanitation. This helps reduce the spread of diseases that are transmitted through the faecal-oral route. Intestinal worms spread this way and can be very dangerous in high burdens for young children. Gender Equality – like many countries around the world, gender inequality is an problem in Uganda. Heifer attempts to change this through involving women in all stages of its projects. Agriculture is the occupation of 90% of rural women in Uganda but men are usually the ones to benefit from all the work as men are traditional involved in the final, most profitable stages. Both men and women, husbands and wives attend Heifer training, decision making and tasks are to be shared equally. The farmers told me there is now peace in homes as both workload and money/power is shared.
  • 7. Environment – Heifer understands that farming practices need to sustainable and conscious of the effects agriculture has on the environment. As a result Heifer provides training in the importance of crop rotation, organic fertiliser and soil erosion. Farmers are provided with fruit trees that not only provide roots to increase soil stability but also provide vitamin rich fruit that can improve the health status of the family as well as a source of income via selling surplus fruit. The implementation of Lorena stoves in households is also part of Heifers environmental initiative. Lorena stoves use less firewood and produce less smoke than traditional stoves thus less tress are cut down and there are less incidences of respiratory disease.
  • 8. HIV & AIDS - HIV prevalence in Uganda is now at 7.3%. Heifer identifies and works with households of people infected and/or affected by HIV and AIDS. Community sensitization meetings are held to educate locals about the disease and this helps reduce the stigma as people are more aware of the facts. Heifer works closely with TASO, Uganda Farm Family Association and NACWOLA. I visited one dairy goat farmer that is HIV positive and he told me how his health has improved through the health benefits of the goat milk. Also, the income he earns from the surplus milk allows him to seek medical help when needed as well as send his two daughters to school. Record Keeping - Farmers are trained in and thought the importance of record keeping. Records of costs, income, production, animal health and veterinary care/drugs administered. Animal Husbandry – It is essential farmers are educated in proper practice when it comes to animal care/management as this will be one of the biggest factors that will ensure success or failure of the whole project. Farmers are instructed in how best to identify and help prevent diseases eg tick control sprays, best feeding methods eg zero grazing and how to fit and use the ploughs properly. Food Security – Training in hygienic storage of foodstuffs ensures less food spoilage.
  • 9. During my time in Koile I visited 8 groups. Each group consists of 4 farmers and each group receives 4 oxen and a plough. The oxen are 2 or 3 yrs old when the farmers receive them. They are a local Zebu breed. This means they are more resilient to diseases that are common in the area, they thrive on the local foliage eg Napier/elephant grass and they also can deal with less drinking water than other breeds. They oxen are trained by placing 2 younger bulls with 2 more experienced, trained bulls. A few people are needed in the training process to drive the plough and guide the animals. However the farmers I spoke to said the bulls learn quickly. In the beginning when the bulls are young and inexperienced all 4 are needed to plough but as they become stronger it is possible to just use 2 at a time. 6 of the 8 groups I visited now have 2 sets of 2 oxen and a plough each, they have bought another plough within their group. This means they can plough their land faster and they can earn extra income by ploughing neighbours land or rent the oxen and plough. When I asked farmers what were the main benefits of being involved with the Animal Traction project the same things seemed to keep coming up – increased income, ability to educate their children, pride, better health & nutrition, opportunity to expand their farm,welfare, food security, harmony in the home, chance to build a permanent house and overall, a better quality of life. I was delighted to see that something as simple as an oxen and plough can have such a knock on and positive effect. Education was something that every family I spoke to was keen to invest in and this is fantastic to hear as this means the next generation of Koile will have greater opportunities.
  • 10. All the farmers I spoke to had diversified or expanded their farms since becoming beneficiaries. Many now had kitchen gardens with tomatoes, aubergines and onions growing. This meant their family had a more varied and vitamin rich diet. Many others had invested in meat goats, turkeys, pigs, chickens and one or two had even bought a dairy cow. This also enhances the families diet but also provides another income generator via selling meat, eggs or milk. Others had spent their profits on wheelbarrows to transport crops from the field, casava mills to start a small business making cassava flour, building permanent houses for their family and one lady, Igi Jane, had installed solar power to her house.
  • 11. The main challenges the farmers reported were drought, disease and the expense of veterinary care. Drought is a constant issue in East Africa and with some areas experiencing devastating floods other areas are crying out for rain. The farmers said that over the last 3 years the dry season (Dec-Feb and June- Aug) has been prolonged. This means the ground remains to dry and hard to plough for longer so harvests are later and food shortages occur. Drought also means less food for animals, while some die others are too weak to work. Disease was by far the greatest challenge to the farmers regarding care of the oxen. Tick borne diseases, liver fluke and intestinal worms were the most common reported. FMD, CBPP, trypanosomiasis and brucellosis also occur in the area but less frequently. Ticks spread Babesiosis, Theileriosis (East Coast Fever) and Anaplasmosis. Most farmers use sprays to prevent ticks and to good effect. Cost varies, while one farmer reported it costs 3,000USH to get each animal treated each month a local Animal Husbandry Officer said a bottle of acaricide costs 4,000 USH. Some months farmers said they are not able to afford this preventative treatment and if so animals go untreated and are likely to become infected. Treatment for these tick borne diseases varies from 15,000USH to 55,000USH. If caught early Tetracycline can be used in all cases.
  • 12. Liver Fluke is most common in areas which experience flooding as the vector is the water snail. It is becoming more of a serious challenge according to Richard the local Animal Husbandry Officer. Between 2007- 2010 there was bad flooding in the area and this has increased the incidence. During this time some farmers lost all their animals (average 10 local breed cattle) to Liver Fluke. Farmers reported treating Fluke as costing between 10,000-20,000USH per animal. Employing zero grazing would reduce the incidence as animals would not be grazing swampy infected areas. Finally, all the farmers also mentioned intestinal worms to be a challenge with the oxen's health. A heavy burden leads to diarrhoea, poor growth and a lack of energy. Most farmers carry out regular deworming. Grazing animals on common ground with lots of other animals means worm burdens can build up in the pasture. Richard the local Animal Husbandry Officer's advice was more training for farmers in preventative procedures, perhaps yearly re-fresher courses. Also to get farmers to work in groups to help with spraying and deworming of each others animals on a regular basis to encourage compliance.
  • 13. The other big challenge the farmers spoke about was adding value to produce. It was explained to me how that selling unprocessed produce eg groundnuts in their shells or unchipped cassava gets a much lower price than processed goods. Unprocessed goods also mean farmers are limited to selling them locally, they can not sell for more profit to larger scale buyers. Many of the Koile farmers hope that Heifer will help them with processing and marketing training in the future so they can make the most of their product that the oxen are helping produce. One option could be providing small loans to groups to purchase or rent processing machinery. One farmer we visited had taken his own initiative and set up a cassava flour mill. He now earns an income from charging local farmers to use it. Finally, record keeping seemed a problem on many farms I visited. Farmers are meant to keep records so they can keep track of costs, income and vet care. Many farmers did not have any records and when I asked why they mentioned lack of stationary, children using the record booklets for school as paper and in some cases illiteracy.
  • 14. Recommendations • Ensure farmers are able to keep records and realise the importance of this. Some may need help with literacy. • Reiterate the importance of Passing on the Gift. Many groups I visited had not POG although they hoped to do so soon. The POG model is essential for Heifer's sustainability. • If Heifer wants to continue to support the farmers of Koile, processing and marketing training to help add value to produce is key. This can be done in a sustainable way through microfinancing or mobilising local knowledge in the training process. • Although farmers are thought about preventative veterinary care some need to be reminded and maybe retrained to ensure optimum health of their animals. Working with local Animal Husbandry Officers and vets is key, perhaps monthly workshops on local problems. • Keep up the good work VIVA and Heifer, this is an incredible project that is really working! Acknowledgements I would like to thank the O’Leary family for giving me this unique opportunity, Mike Burke for all the work he did to insure everything ran smoothly and to the Heifer staff, especially Moses and Joshua who made me feel so welcome. Finally I would like to extend my appreciation to all the farmers, especially the farmers of Koile, for their time and generosity. I hold my experience in Uganda close to my heart.

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