The Uganda Meat Packers Cooperative Union wants government to pay more attention to their plight, especially their funding challenges and the lack of veterinary drugs. The meat packers, during their recent annual general meeting, noted that the high cost of drugs was hurting their businesses. Tracy Hathon, the CEO of the union, said the shortage of funds continued to slow down their activities. While donors have chipped in with some money to help the union, Hathon said the funding gap remained wide. She added that the option of turning to the commercial banks was expensive and straining.
"The cows are the only collateral these people have. Many times banks refuse to give them money, and when they give, they seem to undervalue the cattle," she added.
John Kamugisha, the Chairman Buramba Livestock Society in Kiruhura, complained that drugs remain expensive for cattle keepers.
"I urge the government to subsidize on drug supply. Today, a litre of Decatex insecticide costs Shs90.000 while a liter of milk is Shs300, meaning one needs to sell 300 liters to buy one liter of Decatex," he said.
Putting these costs in perspective, Kamugisha added: "If you calculate the input costs, you will discover that farmers work at a minimal profit margin, which cannot lead them into big business."
Meanwhile, Hathon advised all societies to always submit their annual reports to the union leaders so that they can plan accordingly. The livestock sector contributes about 9% to Uganda's GDP, but the farmers are complaining that government is not giving them full support. The ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries gets 4.7% of the national budget, of which very little goes to livestock farming. The union comprises of 33 cooperative societies, mainly from the country's cattle corridors of western and northern Uganda, and some areas in the central region, 30 of which are fully registered.