Learn from Muslims and protect your interests
Posted Wednesday, October 23 2013 at 00:00
Livestock farmers world over look forward to Idd Adhuha, because the opportunity to make money from Muslims who buy animals for slaughter to mark the day.
However, few farmers in Uganda looked forward to this Idd, many are probably considering quitting the industry, following the increased costs of animal feed inputs.
In the last few weeks, prices of key ingredients such as maize bran and fish meal have gone up, forcing many farmers to scale back or completely go out of business.
The price per kilogramme of fish meal has gone from Shs2,000 to Shs3,000 while for maize bran, it has shot up from Shs300 to Shs600. Feeds make up more than half of the cost of livestock production.
Desperate farmers are selling off their prized animals at a fraction of their value or borrowing heavily to stay in business.
It is not the first time farmers are facing this kind of crisis. Such seasonal shortages have more or less become a common occurrence; you can bet it will happen next year and the year after.
As usual, farmers are lamenting over government’s failure to subsidise the cost of inputs and generally neglecting the entire livestock feeds industry. Will lamenting solve the problem? Of course it will not.
In the spirit of the recent Idd, these farmers need to borrow a leaf from Muslims who have developed a way to tackle problems instead of lamenting about them.
For a long time, Muslims in this country lamented about being sidelined by government. No one listened. Then they changed tactics. Instead of lamenting, they decided to do something, and the new strategy has started to yield results.
A few weeks ago, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) considered stopping mosques from using loud public address systems to summon the faithful to prayer. Enraged Muslims took on KCCA, demanding for an apology. A cowed KCCA abandoned the idea.
More recently, a group of Muslims took the Uganda National Examination Board (Uneb) to court for scheduling Senior Four exams on Idd Adhuha. Although court ruled in Uneb’s favour, still the exams were pushed forward for the sake of public peace.
If Muslims can come together to defend their interests, why can farmers not do the same?
The genesis of the animal feeds crisis can be traced to government’s open door policy regarding export of unprocessed agricultural produce.
Protect our interests
Uganda is the only country I know, where even bran got during the process of milling imported wheat, is re-exported. Kenyan traders buy it up and truck it home to use in their animal feeds industry.
The reason that milling companies give is that Ugandan traders buy in small quantities, which are cumbersome to handle.