A poultry breeding facility at NARO Mukono ZARDI, Ntawo village was commissioned on Wednesday 27th September 2023 by the State Minister of Agriculture Hon. Kyakulaga Fred Bwino. The focus of the facility is to produce improved local chicken breeds creating more profits from both meat and eggs. The infrastructure was constructed with support from the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) project and European Union. In addition, a modern hatchery system was installed to support high rate of supply of day-old chicks to smallholder farmers in the country. USAID’s Feed the Future project is providing seed funds for the breeding project.
It is worth noting that Uganda has limited data on the genetic makeup of the local breeds and thus, local poultry breeders do not have an appropriate breeding program. In addition, farmers lack a structured selection process on improving traits of economic importance like egg production. According to Dr. Henry Mulindwa, the project collected parent stock from 6 different districts and they are used first to select for fast maturity with a target of getting to the desired 2 Kgs in less than 4 months, while maintaining the other desired meat qualities. Currently, local chicken on free range system take more than 6 months to get the desired 2 Kgs weight. Selection is still ongoing with only three generations carried out so far.
Dr. Barbara M Zawedde, Director of Research MUZARDI, noted that the project aims to reduce on the importation of chicks from countries like Netherlands and India by poultry farmers. The project will also provide hatchery services for production of chicks from eggs brought by farmers. The project has already disseminated some chicks to a few selected farmers but the demand is high.
The Director General NARO, Dr. Yona Baguma requested the Minister to continue supporting NARO to access funds to set up exhibitions and demonstrations in collaboration with MAAIF, Local Government Extension Officers and UNFFE at the beginning of each planting season so that farmers are exposed and given an opportunity to buy inputs coming out of research.
The Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr. Mike Segawa also appreciated NARO for the work being done on the project since it benefit smallholder poultry farmers to gain more from the enterprise. The Advisory Committee Chairperson of MUZARDI, Mrs. Rebecca Ssabanganzi noted that the strategic location of MUZARDI in Ntawo, Mukono Municipal and in Kamenyamiggo near Masaka City makes it a great resource for urban dwellers to be involved in agriculture and to act as a one stop Centre for all NARO technologies especially for corporate farmers who go home over the weekend. She requested government to provide security to the institute land in Ntawo and provide transportation for easy movement of staff to Kamenyamiggo where they carry out key research activities in addition to technology promotion.
Reverand Bakaluba Mukasa, the LC V Chairman Mukono district, recognized the role of MUZARDIs in bringing research services closer to the people in the central region. He appreciated the new poultry breeding project because it will improve poultry farmers’ livelihoods.
The State Minister of Agriculture Hon. Kyakulaga Fred Bwino appreciated NARO for the initiative to support the local poultry farmers through the breeding project. He further thanked DINU and European Union, and Feed the Future for funding the infrastructure capacity and research work, respectively. He appreciated the staff of MUZARDI for the good work being done at the station.
The Minister called on MUZARDI to increase capacity to produce enough eggs from the project that can also be sold to private sector for further dissemination and chicken improvement. He promised to take on the massive mobilization request of Ministry officials to support ZARDIs at the start of each season through Agricultural officers and the public to disseminate NARO technologies. In addition to the Poultry facility, the Minister also toured the aquaculture and urban farming demonstration sites as well as a mini expo set-up in the NARO Incubation Centre showcasing some of the value added products from indigenous leafy vegetables.