In Uganda NLF is operating in two small farmer-led projects in the ‘Cattle Corridor’. In the dry areas of South-Central Uganda the focus is on selective breeding of Ankole Longhorn indigenous cattle and natural fencing of grazing areas. The Lake Mburo Farmers Cooperative Society (LMFCS) in South West Uganda promotes a range of practical actions. The establishment of milk cooler has attracted many farmers to join cooperative, and resulted in additional yoghurt making by women, and sale by young community members.

Major achievements in 2022 include:

  • Fast growing numbers and enthusiasm of cooperative membership: from 45 to 176
  • Growing community level yoghurt making (from 200 to 600 liters per week) by women & transport by two marketeers (youngsters) to urban areas. Main limitation is transport.
  • Recently acquired a pasteurization equiptment, with capacity of 50 liters per day.
  • Improvement of installation, with water harvesting tank (20.000 lts) and concrete floor
  • Income diversification activities: bee keeping and indigenous tree species (10.000 Macamia)
  • Breeding project with Vleckvieh insemination, in combination with National Genetic Resource Centre
  • Crude salt provided for cattle of members.
  • An initiative on maintenance of Ankole breed, through re-stocking in the central cattle corridor, and construction of live fence material was undertaken.

NLF Uganda team

NLF in Uganda is a small but growing initiative, which has come out of the international exchange program the E-Motive exchange visit between Netherlands and Uganda in 2016, which resulted in the international collaboration as NLF Foundation. NLF Uganda is formally functioning under the umbrella of the Lake Mburo Farmers Cooperative Society (LMFCS) in Kanyanere near Mbarara, part of the Cattle Corridor in South West Uganda.

Elizabeth Katushabe

Livestock keeper who studied at Makarere University, Uganda. Head of NLF Uganda and part of NLF executive board. Important lobbyist for promoting local Ankole Longhorn cattle. Elizabeth headed the Ugandan branch of PENHA  (Pastoral and Environmental Network in East Africa) and is a well known speaker at international for a representing the voice of female cattle keepers. She has also collaborates with the League of Pastoral Peoples and LiFE network

Robert Kaijutsya

Smallholder dairy farmer collaborating with Elisabeth Katushabe. Robert studied social sciences at the university of Mbarara and started his career at the Igongo Cultural Centre in Mbarara.  Later on he decided to become a smallholder producer and dairy farmer, now the successful elected chairman of the Milk producers’ Cooperative in Kanyanere – famous for local yoghurt production and sales. The cooperative collaborated in the NLF trial with herbal trick remedies based on the recipes from TDU, India.

Dr. Christopher Kyeswa (DVM)

Ugandan veterinarian, community development practitioner for over 15 years; competence in designing and developing rural community development programs; vast experience in managing community development programs; NGO leadership and governance.executive director of Regenerate Africa – Africa 2000 network (A2N) in Uganda, as well as PELUM Uganda. Engaged in numerous activities related to farmer.

Dairy farming in Uganda

Within the East African Region, Uganda has the advantage of fertile land resources, a favourable climate (good rainfall and low temperature variability) for milk production. The dairy sector is one of the drivers of its recent economic growth, with commercialisation of dairy production being an important government objective. Dairy production systems in Uganda have been broadly classified as “traditional” and “commercial” milk production systems. Milk production in Uganda is dominated by smallholder producers who own over 90% of the national herd and produce over 90% of the milk in the country. The average herd size in Uganda is 6.9 per cattle owning household.

Indigenous cattle have relatively poor production and reproductive performance; they persist because of their versatility and adaptability to the local climatic and disease conditions. There is increased crossbreeding with exotic breeds for milk production in the commercial production systems; with the most popular being the black and white Holstein Friesian (HF). Other common dairy breeds include Jersey, Guernsey and Ayrshire. The susceptibility of these breeds to local diseases and parasites and high management costs remains a major challenge to commercial dairy farming in Uganda. Breed improvement therefore has to be a compromise between increased milk production and suitability with the local environment.

Commercialisation of dairy production is especially significant in South West Uganda, as it has the highest rate of formally marketed milk, with approximately 60 – 75 % of all processed milk emanating from this part of the country (the southwest milkshed). A key challenge are ticks and tick-borne diseases. Chemical prevention with insecticides (acaricides) is expensive, ineffective and causes damage to human health and the environment. With the emergence of multi acaricide resistant ticks and acaricides failure, this has led to more intensive spraying, increasing the doses up to 4 x the recommended amounts and mixing of different chemicals.

Moreover, ticks transmit East Coast Fever, an important cattle disease. With acaracides failing, farmers administer antibiotics and anti-theilerials as a last resort to save their animals, further compromising milk quality and the environment. The mixed infections with other tick borne diseases; babesiosis, anaplasmosis and heartwater coupled with miss-diagnosis complicate matters leading to inappropriate use of antibiotics and anti-theilerials.

A direct environmental consequence of these practices is the disappearance of insects (butterflies and bees), and birds on dairy farms and decreasing soil fertility. Therefore it is of utmost importance to reduce the use of acaricides, investigate methods for their safe and strategic use, and search for herbal remedies to restore the efficacy of acaricides or even replace them.

NLF activities in Uganda

In 2016 they jointly organized the E-Motive exchange visit between Netherlands and Uganda, which resulted in the collaboration as NLF network and the film Milk Dilemma in Uganda. Between 2017 and 2019 the SNV TIDE dairy program in Mbarara supported the international NLF activities on herbal remedies for tick control based on the recipes of Dr. Nair and prof. Punniamurthy from NLF-India.

In 2020 the cooperative expanded its activities towards establishing a milk parlour with a community milk tank, as the breakdown of the dairy processor in Mbarara placed dairy farmers in great difficulties. A 3000 litre cooler was donated by the National Agriculture Advisory Service (NAADS) and inaugurated 7 October 2020. NLF supported other crucial elements of the milk parlour, and provided input for the yoghurt making plans for local marketing.

Other activities of NLF Uganda include the establishment of a natural fence for the management of an important stock of Ankole Longhorn cattle. This is part of the plans to further promote the Ankole Longhorn breed, with important socio-cultural, environmental and local food production (ghee) functions. The activities of NLF in Uganda have also resulted in establishing a herbal gardens at farmer level.

In 2020 and 2021 the activities are hampered due to several limitation, including the COVID-19 limitations and an outbreak of Foot&Mouth Disease (FMD). Plans for the future include:

  • Promote environmental conservation through tree planting targeting indigenous tree species.
  • Documentation of traditional knowledge & practices on livestock management.
  • Promote bee keeping to produce honey which has proved vital ingredient in herbal medicine.
  • Expand the training of farmers by NLF India experts on herbal products for common cattle diseases.
  • Continue collaboration and trial on herbal tick control.