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Sembabule Leaders Plead for Substitute Pasture Species to save Livestock

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A vast majority of farmers in Sembabule and other districts in the cattle corridor rely on natural pastures and sometimes include native elephant grasses to feed their animals. But many of them are scrambling for limited and already dried-up natural pastures and water sources, according to Karakure.
Animals grazing on a farm

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The government has been asked to promote the growth of substitute pasture species to enable livestock farmers to overcome the effects of prolonged droughts in Sembabule District.

Rugushulu Sub-County Chairperson Fred Karakure says that the Ministry of Agriculture needs to roll out deliberate interventions that can provide sustainable responses to the recurrent dry spells that gravely affect livestock farmers. 

A vast majority of farmers in Sembabule and other districts in the cattle corridor rely on natural pastures and sometimes include native elephant grasses to feed their animals.  But many of them are scrambling for limited and already dried-up natural pastures and water sources, according to Karakure.

He explains that as a result the weaker and young animals that cannot jostle for their survival end up dying due to malnourishment and other opportunistic diseases. He says that livestock farmers in his sub-county have lost close to 100 head of cattle and goats after failing to feed their animals.

However, Karakure says that the situation which is characterized by long dry spells and scorching sunshine on the grasslands, demands that farmers adopt options that can help them overcome the adverse effects of climate change. He demands that the government supports farmers with seeds, vines, and plantlets of artificial crops that can substitute natural grasses.

//Cue in; “government eteekeko… 

Cue out….emmeere y’ente.”//

Besides the death of livestock, Karakure says that the prolonged dry spell has affected the district’s production capacity in terms of milk and other dairy products. He argues that many farmers hardly raise a quarter of their usual milk production despite the available market for the produce.

Sembabule District Production Officer Doctor Emmanuel Kawooya confirms that the district has generally registered grave consequences from the rare drought that has hit them. He says that they advise farmers to reduce the size of their livestock in such challenging situations, such that they can remain with numbers they can optimally manage.

In 2005, the Ministry of Agiculture developed a National Animal Feeds Policy, which established advisory and technical committees that are charged with harnessing the country’s livestock production through various interventions.

For instance, the policy calls for adoption on a national scale, proper livestock management systems on natural pastures and forages, coupled with supplementary feeding using agro-industrial by-products that be availed by the developed animal feed industry. However, the policy is yet to be fully implemented hence its benefits largely remain unreleased    

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