Kampala — A team of researchers at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) have developed three anti- tick vaccines that they say will help farmers "do away with frequent spraying" of cattle with acaricides.
The vaccines will tackle three tick species; brown ear tick which transmits East Coast Fever, bont tick and blue tick, all common in East and Central Africa.
"Farmers spray acaricides on their animals two to three times a week, which leads to contamination, sometimes in the milk but also the environment. It ends up in our milk, it kills bees, birds...," Dr Frederick Kabi, the lead researcher, said yesterday at Naro offices in Namulonge, Wakiso District.
"When the vaccines come to the market at the end of the year, we shall only need to spray to control nuisance flies and we can only spray once every three months," Dr Kabi added shortly after Naro officials met Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.
The team hopes to manufacture the vaccines for both local and foreign markets.
Ms Kadaga, who toured Naro research innovations along with Busoga chiefs seeking to get improved seeds and animal breeds, applauded the researchers' work.
"This is an important initiative. You will be saving the farmers from poverty. Because areas that are under quarantine are unable to trade and the kind of noise they make," she said.
The vaccines will work in a way that makes animals' blood tasteless. By so doing, the ticks will no longer feed on vaccinated animals and eventually starve. In about five years, scientists hope they will have eliminated the ticks in the country.
Dr Swidiq Mugerwa, the director of the National Livestock Resources Research Institute, said they have a bigger plan of developing all animal vaccines for both local and foreign markets.
"We have made advancement on ticks' vaccines; we have also initiated an African swine vaccine where we have developed candidate vaccines. We want to develop all vaccines for the country," Dr Mugerwa said.
Ticks are responsible for different ailments among cattle. Ticks can cause skin irritation and fur loss in individual animals. They can also cause bovine anaemia, Lyme disease, heart water and gall sickness, among others.
Animal breeding. Similarly, Naro has started a centre where they will produce cattle embryos of the Jesse animal breed.
improved animals of the breed from Denmark which they intend to extract embryos and give to farmers.
"Each animals is able to produce 100 embryos each year. We have 50 cattle now and we want to use them to produce embryos," said Mr Hussein Kato Walusimbi, a research officer at Naro. "Essentially, these animals produce the same milk similar to our local animals," he added.