THE lack of a law that regulates and guides animal feed manufacturers is threatening the livestock sector in Uganda, according to a study conducted by the ministry of agriculture
By Prossy Nandudu
THE lack of a law that regulates and guides animal feed manufacturers is threatening the livestock sector in Uganda, according to a study conducted by the ministry of agriculture animal industry and fisheries (MAAIF).
A survey carried out by MAAIF in all parts of the country apart from the northern region, revealed that over 75% of manufactured feeds on the market do not meet required standards of animal feeds.
Among others the animal feeds were found to be; low in nutrients as compared to the requirements, Adulterated by addition of materials like sawdust and sand to increase weight, moistened to increase weight, containing toxic substances especially aflatoxin which is associated with cancer of the liver in humans.
The survey conducted between 2002 and 2005 also discovered that for farmers who were mixing their feeds, didn’t even take them to available laboratories for testing before giving them to animals and for sale.
The study was meant to find out the status of animal feeds in the country under a programme called the Agriculture Sector Support Programme on Animal Feeds quality project from 1999 to 2005 prior to formulation of the bill.
In farming, feeds constitute 70% of the requirement and cost of animal production especially an indication that profitability of livestock enterprises depends on the quality of animal feeds.
According to the commissioner Livestock and Entomology Dr.Nicholas Kauta most animal feeds on the market are substandard and this is one of the key constraints to the commercialization of livestock production. Considering the dwindling land resources intensification of farming will continue and the need for regulated feeds will grow.
“Farmers continue to register looses in animal production due to substandard feeds and this is discouraging potential farmers from investing in livestock farming,” said the Kauta.
Uganda Investment Authority says the livestock sector is one of Uganda’s important growth sectors contributing about US $ 290 million to total GDP in 2008/09 up from US $ 210 million by the year 2007/08.
This constitutes 17 percent of the agricultural GDP and is a source of livelihood to about 4.5 million people in the country.
What is the problem?
There is a growing demand for animal feeds and this has lead to animal feeds traders and dealers to adulterate the available feeds to increase the amount to address the demand.
The practice has also been linked to inadequate investment in the production of quality animal feeds.
Contaminants like saw dust, sand, shells among other are occasions added into animal feeds just to increase bulk and size to cheat the unsuspecting farmers or customers.
The problem has even become complex with the number of unqualified persons who mix the feeds for animals.
“Without the required knowledge of the risk factors in the production of feeds, unqualified person may fail to take this into consideration an issue that is likely to affect animal health by coming up with unbalanced nutrients that affect production,” says Dr.Kauta.
For example Moses Sabika a farmer from Kirowoza Mukono district, decided to make his own feeds after buying Mukene full of sand and shells.
However experts warn that farmers shouldn’t mix their own feeds. Dr. Sam Ssewagudde a veterinary doctor explains that most farmers don’t have the skill and knowledge on how to mix different ingredients in order to come up with the required feed.
“Ideally farmers shouldn’t mix their own feeds simply because they many not be aware of what measures of feeds are needed by animals in different stages for example a diary cattle needs different ingredients from a beef cattle and same applies to layers and broilers for those in poultry and the age,” said Ssewagudde.
He says that majority of the farmers copy formulas from fellow farmers a practice he said could be dangerous incase one mixed the wrong amounts in a feed, all animals in the entire village will be affected.
He also blames the practice on the lack of technical information or people especially in the livestock sector unlike the neighbouring countries of Kenya where the livestock sector has grown and there are many experts in that field.
Disadvantages of farmers mixing their own feeds
“When mixing there is a danger of coming up with feeds with excess nutrients like proteins in Poultry which leads to the fattening of the chicken. This affects layers. Egg production will be slowed or may not occur due to the weight,” adds Sewagudde.
Effects of contaminated feeds on animal health
Dr. Sewagude explains that adulterated feeds can cause sickness like Pneumonia among chicks which kills them eventually because it affects the respiratory system of the chick making it hard to breath.
Therefore the bill aims at protecting human health because when residues from feeds enter the food chain, they are passed on to animal products like milk and eggs which are consumed by people.
Implications of the bill
The bill once passed into law will punish any person who engages in the manufacture, distribution, storage or sale of animal feed or feeds ingredients without first being registered in accordance with the provisions of the Act;
Or any regulations made under it or operate without a valid license, commit an offence and are liable on conviction, to a fine not exceeding twelve currency points or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.
According to the bill any firm or person convicted of adulterating or selling adulterated feeds would be fined not exceeding sh480, 000 or imprisoned not more than 12 months.
The policy provides for the registration and licensing of feed manufacturers, importers and distributors and establishing an effective animal feeds inspectorate.
Parliament told to speed up law on animal feeds