To improve the dairy industry and therefore lives of the people, Heifer International is giving out exotic cattle to the people of Northern Uganda.
The Jinnai project which is going to last for two years is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Foundation. If it succeeds, it will be extended to other neighboring districts.
"We are aiming at transforming the lives of 300 small holder farmers through pilot-testing a dairy micro-leasing model in Omoro and Gulu district by 2018," said William Matovu, the Heifer Uganda Country Director.
Matovu noted that if the project is successful, they will be job creation, increased incomes for small holder farmers and increased access to nutritious food in Gulu.
Speaking at the conference, Ambassador Julius Onen, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade and Industry said that he appreciates Heifer's efforts because the project touches the core of the livelihood of the people.
"This is a good project because farmers are going to be able to earn something every day for their survival.by 2050, Uganda's population is going to be big so we need to start now so that by 2050 we are not even bothered about exporting to other countries but only selling in our regions," noted Onen.
However the minister of state for Animal industry, Joy Kabatsi, asked them whether they had done a study to find out whether Gulu is conducive for exotic cattle.
"This is great news to me but as a minister I do not think that Northern Uganda's weather is good for the exotic cows, have you done enough study to find out where the water is going to come from to feed the cows, what about the food, do you have enough trained people to carry out artificial insemination, as a ministry, we are going to zone areas to avoid diseases so you need to find a proper way of transporting these animals. We shall support you but you need to do a lot of research," she said.
Kabatsi also called upon Heifer International to consider giving the people of Northern Uganda a cow that will give the people both beef and milk because farmers to struggle to look after the exotic cattle and end up getting peanuts as low as sh500 per litre.
Ambassador of Japan to Uganda Kazuaki Kameda, said that with Uganda's calm weather condition and rich soil, the people are going to benefit from the rich knowledge and extensive experience Japan has in dairy and beef cattle production.
"I have learned that the animal husbandry production plays a certain role in subsistence agriculture that it accounts for merely around 7.5% of GDP in Uganda. The animal industry has a potential to develop to a commercial sale. I hope that the project is going to contribute to increasing the production and quality of dairy products in the North and beyond," noted Kazuaki.
At the Conference, Dr Tonny Kidega, a farmer in Gulu assured the minister that it is a myth that Gulu cannot handle dairy farming because it is hot, has insecurities, milk is not consumed by people and that friesians cow cannot survive.
"Dairy farming is possible in Gulu because the land is fertile, there is peace and stability, cheap labour, good weather and the market for milk is big in Kitgum, pader and Lamwo," he said
Kidega pointed out poor veterinary service in Gulu, unsustainable breeding, expensive sexed semen, poor feed preservation strategies leaving to no feeds in the dry season