The 28th National Agricultural Show that ran from August 9-15 in Jinja was billed as government’s test to identify sub-sectors to promote the recently-rolled out Parish Development Model (PDM). Several government entities showcased their innovations, improved technologies and practices for better production, processing and marketing in agriculture. At the end of the weeklong fair, NAGRC&DB emerged as the best exhibitor and in so doing, the livestock sub-sector presented itself as the most viable route to pull farming households from subsistence to the money economy.
When chief guest Hon Bright Rwamirama, the state minister for Animal Industry, opened the show on August 9, he underscored the importance of building resilience of agricultural livelihoods and landscapes to ensure sustainable food security and wealth creation.
The minister noted that government targets to transform the majority of subsistence farmers and graduate them towards commercial agricultural production so as to raise family incomes and introduce these households to the money circle. This, he noted, can be achieved through the PDM where planning and execution is done at the lowest level.
This year’s theme was Fostering Resilient Commercial Agriculture for Agro-industrialization and Wealth Creation and Hon Rwamirama mentioned NAGRC&DB as a key player in the PDM implementation.
He also said that government continues to prioritize investment in technology development, including breeding, seeds and inputs, post-harvest management and extension.
“I call upon all sectors, local governments, non-governmental organizations, private sector, animal breeders and institutions of higher learning to renew commitment to support crop farmers, livestock farmers and other land users to climate proof their land and avert the looming negative impacts of climate change,” he said.
He also hinted that government seeks to prioritize livestock farming in the implementation of the PDM on grounds of the recent breakthroughs and innovations in animal genetics that produce higher yields, are easier to manage and can withstand harsh weather.
WHY NAGRC&DB STOOD OUT
Through trainings and awareness campaigns, NAGRC&DB officials pointed farmers and the rest of the showgoers to the direction of commercial agriculture and wealth creation opportunities from their various enterprises.
For instance, they showcased products ranging from their national bull stud, poultry and rabbit unit, apiary, pig breeding, fish and goats, amongst others.
A 900kg tropicalized Brahman bull stood out as well the lactating Jersey cow that produced 20 litres in a single milking. Also on display were the best indigenous and cross-breeds.
“We are glad with the large turnout of farmers, academia, students, researchers, government officials and potential development partners because it gives us first-hand feedback on the work we are doing,” said Suzanne Nabukeera Bukenya, the NAGRC&DB Public Relations Officer.
Participants were trained and exposed to various agro enterprises, including poultry, which is now well-known as a transformative enterprise for poverty escape.
The Kuroiler ecotype was promoted for its ability to scavenge for food and as a dual-purpose bird that can not only produce up to 200 eggs annually, but also reach maturity weight at four to five months. This is a game changer for small scale poultry farmers.
NAGRC&DB further showcased dairy farming as a profitable business due to the increasing and ready market for dairy products locally, regionally and internationally.
At the showgrounds, trainings on managing a profitable dairy farming business were conducted and farmers were equipped with knowledge on the best breeds and practices that yield quality dairy products cost effectively.
At the bull stud, training opportunities were provided for technicians, farmers and students on artificial insemination programs. Other modern breeding technologies such as Multiple Ovulation and Embryo Transfers (MOET) were showcased, focusing on the advantage of this service which enables mass production of pure breeds that have the advantage of inheriting the immunity of the surrogate mothers.
Dr Peter Beine, the NAGRC&DB Executive Director, explained that with MOET, an Ankole cow as a surrogate mother, can be implanted with a purebred Jersey embryo and subsequently produce a pure Jersey calf with higher immunity attained from the Ankole cow that carried it.
“This is what we technically refer to as the maternal effect,” he added.
NATIONAL PIG PROGRAM COMES OF AGE
Meanwhile, NAGRC&DB’s National Pig Program displayed improved breeds of pigs and provided training on how to increase productivity to meet local demands and produce more pork for export.
The pig industry in Uganda plays a role in improving the livelihoods of people by creating employment opportunities, providing a source of food and income.
According to NAGRC&DB piggery expert Esther Nakajubi, the entity supports communities through the community-based breeding program by offering improved pig breeding stock. “Artificial insemination in pigs has also commenced,” she added.
Farmers were advised on which breeds to rear, how to manage them and where to access breeding services. She also seized the moment to promote pig production through management of pig grandparent stock.
“We are supporting farmers to access high quality pig genetics and providing training on best management practices for improved production and productivity,” she noted.
PROMOTION OF FISH FARMING
NAGRC&DB also showcased current works on fish species for genetic improvement through selective breeding. At the show, they carried out training on how to manage a profitable fish farming business.
“The program aims to support sustainable market-oriented fish production through fish genetic improvement for improved food security and household income,” said Ezra Byakora, the fish expert.
RABBITRY ON THE RISE
NAGRC&DB also demonstrated the cuniculture unit where different breeds of rabbits were exhibited and attracted mass engagement.
According to Dr Arthur Tumwine, the NAGRC&DB rabbit expert, rabbitry is an important enterprise for wealth creation amongst resource-constrained communities. They can be reared in areas where there is a shortage of agricultural land and are ideal for the unemployed youth. On display were structures for the rabbits and types of feeds for this enterprise.
“Rabbits have proved to be highly beneficial, productive and make suitable meat,” he remarked.
By the end of the show, there was no doubt that superior animal genetic resources are the key drivers for success in livestock farming and subsequently pivotal to moving households from subsistence farming into the money economy under the PDM.