Combating Newcastle Disease – for profitable poultry farming in Uganda

Poultry farming is one of the easiest agribusiness ventures. You can start with a few chickens in the backyard and rise to a semi – intensive operation, and onward to a large commercial venture with reasonable profit margins.

However, poultry diseases continue to be the stumbling block to the farmers’ dreams and aspirations. The most important disease is Newcastle Disease (ND), locally known as ‘mweela-byaalo’ in Luganda, ‘Geng’ in Luo, ‘omuraramo’ in Runyakitara; and ‘Echoro‘ in Ateso.

Torticollis (twisted neck) is a classic symptom of Newcastle Disease as seen with this broiler chicken

The local names accurately depict the devastation caused by NCD outbreaks. Chickens, baby turkeys, pigeons, ducklings, baby ostriches and guinea fowl- both local and exotic- are affected.

Clinical signs appear within 2 – 12 days, manifested by greenish diarrhea, difficulty in breathing, unsteady movement, drooping of wings, twisted neck, and massive deaths. Dealing with Newcastle Disease Vaccination is the only sure way to defeat the menace of Newcastle Disease. There is no cure. The good news is that a highly effective vaccine is readily available. Registered

Kukustar is a highly effective vaccine against Newcastle disease and very affordable to farmers with small to commercial flocks. It currently available in vials of 100, 200 and 500 doses.

  under the trade name of KUKUSTAR®, it is manufactured at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, by BRENTEC. This vaccine has been approved by the National Drug Authority and PANVAC. Farmers who have adopted vaccination have seen a rapid rise in their flock size due to increased survival of their birds. Vaccination is by eye drop if the flock size is small; or through un-chlorinated drinking water if the flock size is large; and in hatcheries by spraying. KUKUSTAR® does not require to be kept on ice.
This vaccine shall soon be available beyond the borders of Uganda, throughout East Africa.
For more information, contact: +256-774 205900 /+256-701-048673 Key Accounts Manager – CKL (U) Ltd


17 yrs on, did we learn anything from Kibwetere inferno?

The burnout chapel were the Kibwetere cult met its end

The events of March 17, 2000 are forever etched in my mind, the terror and horror was shocking, more than 700 people crammed up in a place that used to be there place of ‘worship’; only charred remains now permanently interred in mass graves. They had congregated to welcome or meet their maker. It had been nearly 3 months past the date which had earlier been communicated since the year 2000 had started; the world did not end as they had been promised so they waited anxiously.

Whereas there’s no evidence of any survivor who walked out of that inferno, stories recounted by members of the cult that survived the spoke of the bizzare goings, but why was there no action taken by state actors? The police, Internal Security and all other organs that carry out intelligence? Why was there no one to smell the rat? Was it too much ‘freedom of association and of worship’? A series of poisonings and killings that were either a group suicide or an orchestrated mass murder by group leaders after their predictions of the apocalypse failed to come about.

Charred remains of the massacre

The security apparatus of Uganda was taken aback by what had happened, the total intelligence failure and subsequent discoveries of bodies in pit latrines in former residences or places used by the cult leadership. The Uganda Police has to this date never concluded its investigation in the matter or declared it a cold case. The last pronouncement by the police was that Kibwetere was in Malawi, they have never caused his arrest or followed it up.

Group photo the cult leaders of the Movement for the Restoration of the 10 commandments cult.

The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was a breakaway religious movement from the Roman Catholic Church founded by Credonia Mwerinde, Joseph Kibweteere and others in Uganda. This Doomsday cult was formed in the late 1980s after Mwerinde, a brewer of banana beer, and Kibweteere, a politician, claimed that they had visions of the Virgin Mary. The five primary leaders were Joseph Kibweteere, Joseph Kasapurari, John Kamagara, Dominic Kataribabo, and Credonia Mwerinde.

An aerial shot of the Jonestown massacre orchestrated by ‘Rev’ Jim Jone inset

Previous cults elsewhere like that of James Warren “Jim” Jones, who was an American cult leader. Ordained as a Disciples of Christ pastor, Jones founded and led the Peoples Temple. In 1978, the cult came to a gruesome end in mass murder-suicide of 918 of its members in Jonestown, Guyana, the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan, and the ordering of four additional Temple member deaths in Georgetown, the Guyanese capital. Nearly three hundred children were murdered at Jonestown, almost all of them by poisoning. Jones died from a gunshot wound to the head; it is suspected his death was a suicide.

Other examples of cults ending badly include; David Koresh’s Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, where 87 died in 1993; the Order of the Solar Temple in Canada, Switzerland, and France, where 75 died in 1994, 1995, and 1997; Shoko Asahara’s Aum Shinrikyo, which killed 12 in Tokyo, Japan, in 1995; Marshall Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate in San Diego, California, where 39 died in 1997. It is interesting to note that David Koresh claimed that he was a final Prophet of that sect.

Today, the tale-tell signs are there, the cults are back, I hope that this time the State through its security organs especially intelligence organizations are alert. The freedoms enshrined in the constitution are being abused. The modern cults today run by millennials are polished, run but white-collar crooks whose methods are highly evolved, they trade in miracles, fortune telling, holy water, holy rice and not directly coercive and brutal as the ones of the former times, the masqueraders as ‘Prophets’, ‘ Bishops’ ‘Apostles’ are all in plain view. They are so clever they’ve fooled the State, and now are in intercourse taking the sheeple and others for the ride, they even need police and military escort to transact business, how did we get to this point?

These masterful con artists dress sharply, they have horned their skills of oration to near spell-binding proportions, brilliant marketers who use the media both traditional like the radio and television; and more modern platforms of social media like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to bait people while taking advantage of their gullibility brought on by limited prospects in life, poverty driven by unemployment. It is a sad tale.

Pr Kakande under heavily armed police escort

The politicians need them for their potential political capital; but this situation breed a quasi spiritual bondage that holds all those players captive. Church or spiritual sects must be separated from the state I call for vigilance from all stakeholders, let us keep eyes and ears open, so that another Kibwetere is averted.

Impacts of climate change of livestock farming communities in Uganda

Climate change is a word that has been used severally and has come up in several ‘global’ and academic debates, but the truest impact, the most sever and damaging aspects have been felt by rural farming communities in Africa – in my case within the local community where I currently work in Uganda.



Photo credit:

The old generation of livestock farmers who have only taken on settled farming don’t know that climate change has happened; but they agree that weather patterns have become increasing erratic in the last 15 years more than ever before.
Livestock farming makes up about 40% of all agriculture whereas most homesteads keep livestock, the livelihoods may not necessarily depend on livestock particularly and contributed 3.2% to the total national GDP of 2009.

Before the farmers settled, carried out nomadism and a sort of transhumance, this way of life had given them an edge, when pasture and water was diminished in on place, they could pack their belongings and drive their livestock mostly cattle to places that had those resources. However, with increasing population, land pressure also increased, forcing people to adapt to settled farming and it has not been rosy.

The direct impacts seen today apart from the altered weather patterns been increased temperatures which have directly affected the rangelands where the animals graze with water reservoirs drying to quickly, animals eating less and less because they seek shade instead of grazing resulting in reduced production, even the consumable crops cultivated to supplement the animal based diets have continued to fail because the rains are infrequent, when it rains, it is for a short time and very heavy. The farmers lack a capacity to construct large capacity water collection reservoirs or sometimes, it just does not rain. Even the fish in the lakes and rivers have reduced because warmer waters are unfavorable for fish as they contain less and less oxygen.

Ugandan communities have depended on the ideal location and great climatic conditions available as well as the natural environment. The natural environment has slowly been destroyed with the country losing about an estimated two-thirds of her forest cover in the last 20 years partly to cater for expanding human settlements and agriculture. Without adequate investment into agricultural technologies that are more efficient for production, the future remain very uncertain.

Indirectly, climate change has altered the host-pathogen-environment interactions which has resulted in unpredictable disease epidemics which are a nightmare to plan for as the changing patterns of outbreak are not yet been established. In addition, climate changes has led to a labour flight to other sectors of the economy i.e rural-urban migrations with you people moving away from livestock and crop agriculture because the costs of practicing agriculture have become so high that they don’t find it tenable or profitable enough to remain attractive. This will likely make Uganda less food secure.

Since agricultural production systems in Uganda are low-input family based systems, the future is very uncertain. In the face of these extreme weather events, adaptation will be key and more conceited efforts and responsibility need to be taken by offending industrialized countries of the world to protect these vulnerable communities suffering consequences of something they’re not largely responsible for causing.

Our Politicians are ‘rightfully’ corrupt

The other day or perhaps maybe the day before that, I went about my work – of stretching my legs while making courtesy calls on my ‘friends’ in the political circles in the Banana Republic. It is amazing how they all are; really diverse and different form each other.

I was particularly struck by this minister who I spent about three hours interacting with on that Saturday after I caught him in his office where he had made a quick dash to clear his desk of pending work, and this was shocking – a minister (never mind he was a junior minister) in Uganda who goes to work on a weekend with one object on his mind – to clear his desk. There are some politicians and including ministers that are quiet patriotic.

Despite his other numerous commitments and assignments he had failed to make it to his office nearly the whole week and he thought he would go to finish up with his work. We had a small discussion because he had managed to finish before I got in, then we headed out of his office, this is what was shocking. A line of about more than 50 miserable looking people; some well dressed and some not were ‘waiting in ambush’ for him because the security personnel could not let them in.

He warned me not to be or even aspire to be  a Minister of Government in the Uganda of today (but even if I were to be that would be in the Uganda of tomorrow) because “you’ll die poor and early.” 

Then, this Minister that I thought was Honorable turned to me clearly out and said, “How did they even know I was here?” Upon his question, I followed up and found out that there are people who always camp at his office from Monday to Saturday with the hope of seeing him and presenting their ‘issues and grievances’.

He warned me not to be or even aspire to be  a Minister of Government in the Uganda of today (but even if I were to be that would be in the Uganda of tomorrow) because “you’ll die poor and early.” This was a chilling confession that made me realize that whether MPs continue raising their salaries and emoluments, they poorer they become and the more desperate they become. It is the same reason that the Parliament grounds of the Republic are supposed to be Public areas but you will not be allowed access if you have come to see your representative in the house unless it was some other business that brought you.

The peasantry in Uganda is getting worse, they are getting lazier and less productive by the day and their burden of their survival……

Back to the Minister I was checking on, while we walked his ‘constituents’ came rushing forth to greet him calling all fancy and aggrandizing names/titles, then came their ‘ridiculous’ requests from one who said, “Hon, i have not eaten in two days, I need some food” with such desperation that you almost feel sorry; – for this one he had to borrow money from his driver to give her, then others also poured out their demands, asking for school fees, money……barely anyone asked for a job or some assistance to do with wealth creation. This was all too telling. The peasantry in Uganda is getting worse, they are getting lazier and less productive by the day and their burden of their survival, and their lives are now the weight of the politicians, even when they ‘steal’ for those who do, they have such a great burden to bear, than they can enrich themselves even if they wanted. Unless they stole and quit politics.

Cry your beloved country, how to make people productive is now the most urgent need that should feature on the agenda of all the political actors and leaders. Lest we support the politicians to continue being ‘rightfully corrupt’.

The demands of the people from the politicians ought to change first, to more collective issues not the simplistic individual demands.


Not all Politicians are as illustrated above; many times it is the people, you don’t get apples where you have orange trees.