My name Caesar Walter Tumwesigye a 27 yr old male from Uganda – a specialist in Livestock Production. Born and grew up in southwestern Uganda in a community where livestock are a part of the way of life. Early on I was involved in the rearing of these animals and became passionate about them especially indigenous Ankole cattle because of their legendary stories in folklore and their multirole purpose roles in the livelihood of peoples of the African continent.
I am committed to their survival in the face of unfavorable odds like greater demands of production like faster growth, more milk and meat which driving them to extinction. The value of these animals must be promoted before they are no longer in existence.
My project “Establishment of Breed standards for the Ankole cattle” is aimed at establishing a system of standards to guide the breeders of the Ankole cattle to maintain the heritage of the beautiful animals. This project is aimed at advocacy for the conservation while promoting future breeding efforts aimed at protecting the breed from extinction. The overall objective is: To promote the preservation and protection the Ankole cattle genetic resources for biodiversity conservation, improved food security and increased household incomes.
Indigenous animals have played and continue to play a significant role in the livestock industry. Uganda has a wide variety of animals – from high producing breeds of cattle, sheep, poultry and pigs – adapted to modern production systems; to a number of indigenous breeds especially of cattle (including the Ankole Longhorned, East African Shorthorned Zebu etc.) that are well adapted to the natural environment and have been around for a long time. Regionally and in Uganda, animal agriculture is, however, facing new challenges. Urban encroachment and a growing demand for animal products are placing increasing pressure on reduced resources and the country can no longer afford the luxury of less-efficient production.
Lasting food security will only be possible if all sectors move towards more effective and sustainable management of farm animal genetic resources. This includes the resources in the traditional/communal farming sector. Ankole cattle beef is also known for low cholesterol levels which is ideal, and when market as such it shall fetch a premium price, and breeders can be able to keep them and support their herds.
Africa on the whole is seen as a “poor continent”. The livestock farmers are also seen as ‘poor’ yet they play an invaluable role in the nutrition and food security of communities and countries. Whereas the transition from traditional ways of livestock keeping methods that included nomadism took a while (and some still pursue this way of life); settled farming required the these farmers take up more productive animals in order for them to survive.
High yielding exotic breeds were introduced but could not survive easily. The cost of their maintenance was very high and less adapted to this environment – they died in numbers. The ‘magic bullet’ was cross breeding that produced more adapted breeds at the expense of the indigenous animals Most of the problems on the continent today arise from the failures to utilize the available resources properly. I strongly believe that these minimum care breeds that are adapted in Africa possess certain superior qualities that have enabled them to survive in this environment which have evolved over many centuries.
The gain for me is public awareness of the resource that must not be lost. My community gains by promoting good breeding practices for these indigenous animals, which can promote agrotourism – there’s much more potential that can be exploited but this can only happen if the animals are not lost.
In order to achieve my goal, leading to the success the project the following shall be necessary;
- Develop a questionnaire which shall be used as a data collection tool
- Field visits for sampling and collection of opinions and views of various stakeholders through questionnaires and focused group discussions to describe the breed.
- Aggregating information and generating a draft standard
- Carry out Breed promotion, awareness and advocacy in media, posters and banners
At the moment, I have drafted two documents one – Rules of Ankole Cattle Breeders’ Society; the second on is a Draft Breed Standards Document. The second document is the most important for the success of this project, it requires field travel and survey to gather opinions, analyze them and complete it before submission to an East Africa regional convention of breeders and keepers of the Ankole for debate and adoption.
Actual measurable success factors for your project i.e measure of success;
- Renewed interest in the Ankole cattle breed within Uganda and beyond. This shall be measured by discussions and mentions over the internet via metadata. The Ankole cattle should also gain iconic status like the Mountain Gorilla also found in Uganda.
- Breed standards adopted by the breeders’ convention. Measure of success is the usage of this document in ongoing and future breeding programs
Plan to use the US$5000 grant in a period of 6 months to do the following;
- Acquire IT equipment i.e a laptop computer, camera, and voice recorder
- Travel facilitation and per diem 2 people to collect data from breeders
- Meetings/ Group discussions – incentives for attendees of village based meetings i.e transport refunds or teas
- Print poster, banners – to aid in the advertising and branding
- Set up a website dedicated to the Ankole cattle breed in Africa
Blogpost and picture submitted by Caesar Walter Tumwesigye (Uganda) –caesarowak[at]outlook.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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