Sustainable Transformation in Uganda’s Agricultural Sector
Uganda Livestock Animal Health and Traceability
The team at Dimitra is proud to report growth in our work in the Africa region. Continuing our mission to support smallholder farmers worldwide, we regularly coordinate efforts with governments and government agencies. The latest task we’ve taken up is to build the Dimitra ecosystem in eastern Africa, partnering with local entities to gather and organize new systems to support animal health and traceability.
Organizations that manage livestock in Uganda face numerous challenges, including physical tracking and understanding parentage and genetics. Both of these factors have a direct economic impact and relate to ongoing uncertainties about the future of livestock trade in the country.
The Uncertain Future of Livestock Trade in Uganda
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations reports on the opportunities, challenges, and uncertainties the country of Uganda faces in regard to livestock:
- The population of Uganda is expected to double by the year 2050, with almost twice the number of people migrating to metropolitan areas, and a significantly increased consumption of livestock products.
- Poultry production, as well as the production of beef and dairy animals, are likely to rise, and peri-urban middle-size livestock farms are expected to be key drivers of this productivity.
Sustainable transformation in the country of Uganda relies on the strength of the agriculture sector. The Ministry of Agriculture oversees efforts that impact the country’s economy, public health systems, and society as a whole. More rigorous and thorough analysis, made possible by emerging technology, may be the key to understanding trends around consumption as well as quantifying the return on investment in various industries. Policymakers are prioritizing action based on the findings of these analyses, and doing so in response to measurable risks.
Several risks could accelerate in tandem with an increase in commercial activities. For example, growing populations — both animal and human — present increased risk for zoonotic diseases, infectious diseases, and re-emerging diseases. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been a point of focus for the Ugandan government since 2018, and concern over improper farming and livestock practices raise concerns over AMR.
The Ugandan economy is largely supported by agriculture, forestry, and fisheries; the industry sector; and the services sector. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries contributed 21.9% to the country’s total GDP in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
Cattle are the most valuable livestock species in Uganda. In early 2021, a paper published in the Department of Livestock Health Economics and Management describes the direct use benefits of livestock production in the country, namely, “…a significant contribution it makes towards sustainable food security and nutrition for many households in Uganda, especially those in the semi-desert habitats of Karamoja and Northern Uganda that are not suitable for crop production. This contribution is achieved through; the consumption of livestock products, income gained from selling livestock and their products, and increasing crop productivity as a result of the use of fertilizers from animal farming and the use of draught animals for ploughing land.”
As demand increases, it will provide farmers in the country with new business opportunities. In 2020, Ugandan exports of live animals totaled $12.39 million. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in slow GDP growth in 2020 (2.9%, compared to 6.8% in fiduciary year 2019). This dynamic has made it more urgent than ever for government officials and farmers alike to address the real needs and real opportunities for streamlined animal health and tracking practices.
The team at Dimitra is dedicated to providing elite, yet simple solutions that result in progress.
Dimitra is addressing all risks and opportunities head on, and arming the people of Uganda with better tools to connect farmers with the data and information they need. Our agricultural technology platform leverages cutting-edge methods, including:
- IoT sensors make it easy to deploy sensors and receive insightful data through a simple gateway setup. This is also a streamlined way to confirm animal ownership, ensuring farmers protect their property.
- Drone footage uses a combination of RFID tags and drones to inventory herds, as well as collecting important data. These can be used regularly for precise tracking and ongoing monitoring of herds, as well as pastures and climate conditions.
- Satellite technology feeds data into the Dimitra platform, giving farmers better forecasting ability and long-term understanding of patterns and more.
A new work in this region relates to tracking animal parentage using DNA information. This is important because progeny impacts an animals’ genetic worth. Determining parentage and recessive carrier status is a benefit of genomics research, which has been previously underutilized in this area of the world. Combining knowledge gained from these genetic markers with health planning, lifecycle monitoring, feed management and effective animal husbandry provides significant potential for gain.
Dimitra is providing very simple, actionable methods to better track animal performance with modern devices, techniques and new forms of data collection, which has the potential to vastly increase the worth of each animal in the market. Increased animal health, improved gains in dairy and beef production. The net impact could yield significant economic gains, which ultimately benefit farmers.
The Dimitra Livestock Guru Platform can be used with sensor integrations and DNA testing and also manages records for birth, vaccinations, illnesses, ownership, abattoir, exports, logistics, and more. Our goal has been to make the most comprehensive and useful platform in the world, to set farmers everywhere up for success.
Dimitra is on mission around the world to equip and empower smallholder farmers to use technology for good. We foresee dramatic changes as adoption becomes more widespread, and are optimistic about the future of farming in this area of Africa, and throughout the world.