Cattle farmers in Ntoroko are up in arms against Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for hiking the grazing fees for farmers to graze their cows in Tooro-Semuliki National Park.
Cattle farmers in Ntoroko are up in arms against Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for hiking the grazing fees for farmers to graze their cows in Tooro-Semuliki National Park. Cattle farmers graze their animals in the park because of the persistent problem of drought in the district. In 2010, UWA set a fee of shillings 5,000 daily for each cow to graze in the park. However last month UWA increased the fee to 10,000 shillings per cow, which has angered more than 400 cattle keepers.
The cattle keepers who have been affected by the increment are from the sub counties Karugutu, Rwebisengo, Butungama, Kibuuku and Bugandu sub-counties, where water points have all dried out and there is no pasture. The five sub counties neighbor the national park. According to statistics at the district veterinary department, more than 1,000 cows could have died between December 2011 and February 2012 as a result of the drought.
The increment has forced the cattle keepers to look for another option of grazing their cattle saying they can’t afford the new fees, since some cattle keepers have more than 200 herds of cattle. They are also moving to areas near the Uganda-DRC border in search for pasture. Grace Byangoma, a dairy farmer wants UWA to reduce the cost saying that they can’t afford the new rate. She says that in the past it was easy to graze the cattle at the national park, because it was near her home. Byangoma says that since UWA increased the fees, she has lost ten heads of cattle because all the pasture in her farm has dried up.
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Robert Ndagya, the Liaison officer Tooro- Semuliki national park refused to comment when asked why the fees were increased. Patrick Bagonza, the district veterinary officer says that they will meet officials from the national park and convince them over the matter. He says that the farmers don’t have any option other than graze from the park.
According to Bagonza, the government promised to distribute water pumping machines to cattle keepers to solve the water shortages in the district, but up to date, they have never been received. He adds that that last year, when the Minister of State for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Bright Rwamirama visited the district, he said that valley dams would be constructed in the district to store water during the rainy season; however they have never been constructed.
tooro-semuliki national park