WORLD VETERINARY DAY! NAGRC&DB boss reveals what has been done to support Animal Doctors

NAGRC & DB has put in place a mobile lab to enhance its capacity for the embryo transfer services program

BY VENENSCIAS KIIZA

Every last Saturday of April each year, veterinarians around the world, Uganda inclusive gather to celebrate their day.  The 2022 World Veterinary Day will be held on 30th April 2022. These are fellows who ensure proper health of animals, people and the environment. They work day and night to guarantee  animal health, animal welfare, and public health with the understanding that human, animal, and environmental health are intricately interconnected, through food, infectious and zoonotic diseases. They do research to improve human and animal lives, encroachment on wildlife habitat, and the human-animal bond that has existed throughout time. In Uganda celebratory activities are normally guided by Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in conjunction with other stakeholders.  As the D-day nears, Daily Pepper caught up with Dr Peter Beine, the Executive Director of The National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB), and a statutory semi-autonomous body of MAAIF that deals with veterinarians countrywide and in various disciplines almost on a daily basis. He shares with us what NAGRC&DB has done to uplift the plight of veterinarians. Below are the excerpts:

QN: What does WVD mean to NAGRC&DB and what are your plans for the celebrations on April 30th.

The National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB) is a statutory semi-autonomous body of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) established by the Animal Breeding Act, 2001. The goal of NAGRC&DB is to contribute to the transformation of the agricultural sector by enhancing sustainable livestock productivity through conservation and improvement of animal genetic resources.

As a way of commemorating world veterinary day, NAGRC&DB has trained a total of 31 AI technicians who graduated a couple of days ago

NAGRC&DB operates 15 Animal Genetic Resource Centers (AnGRCs) located in all the regions of Uganda. The AnGRCs are stocked with various breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, and chicken housed in their species-specific animal production infrastructure. On each of the AnGRCs, we have veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals that use their knowledge and skills to sustainably manage these animal resources. Therefore, as an entity that employs the highest number of veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals in Uganda, we feel delighted to join the Uganda Veterinary Association in celebrating World Veterinary Day.

As a way of commemorating world veterinary day, NAGRC&DB has trained a total of 31 AI technicians who graduated a couple of days ago. This will enhance the uptake of improved breeds through Artificial Insemination at the parish level in fulfillment of the Parish Development Model (PDM) aspirations. The western NAGRC&DB community breeding staff have camped in Ntungamo district (this year’s WVD host district) for the next two weeks. During this period, they will train farmers, help them articulate their breeding objectives, and then conduct massive pregnancy diagnosis, estrous synchronization, and artificial insemination. We shall also use the occasion to commission the liquid nitrogen storage facilities and parish level semen banks in the district. Our AnGRCs that are situated in various agro-ecological zones of Uganda will continue to serve as knowledge transfer centers to the surrounding farming households. Farmers involved in various livestock value chains will be trained on improved animal husbandry practices such as animal nutrition, calf management, reproductive herd health management, heat detection, and other basic animal husbandry practices. This being the planting season, some selected farmers will be supported with pasture seed to enable them establish fodder for their livestock.

NAGRC&DB operates 15 Animal Genetic Resource Centers (AnGRCs) located in all the regions of Uganda.

QN: Your agency is the biggest employer of vets in the country. To what extent has NAGRC&DB helped vets realize their dreams?

Through periodic Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training, our vets are supported to undertake specialized training on various subjects tenable at some of the leading institutions globally. This makes them highly competitive, not only in Uganda but also globally. No wonder, because of this capacity, NAGRC&DB was selected by the African Union in their 4th Specialized Technical Committee (STC) On Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (ARDWE) meeting, as one of the five Regional Seed Centers of Excellence for Animal Resources in charge of the Eastern African Region which is made up of 13 countries. The countries in the region include Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Djibouti, Comoros, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Uganda. This means that Uganda, through NAGRC&DB, is the backup center for animal genetic resources (regional gene bank), especially for countries that lack national gene banks. Also, through routine management of the diverse stock at the AnGRCs, the veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals employed at NAGRC&DB have acquired hands-on knowledge and skills to enable them to serve Uganda and beyond. My technical staff are on high demand in the region and are often called upon to offer training and skills development in many African and European countries.

QN: What opportunities does NAGRC&DB offer for aspiring vets?

Internship opportunities: Due to the diverse animal resources located in all Agro-ecological zones of Uganda, veterinarians, and veterinary paraprofessionals are offered opportunities to have hands-on experience in a supervised setting. This helps them gain confidence as they prepare to begin interfacing with farmers’ animals after graduation.

Training in Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Beyond internship, NAGRC&DB offers opportunities to both young and old veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals to acquire specialized skills in assisted reproductive technologies such as Artificial Insemination (AI) and Multiple Ovulation Embryo Transfer (MOET).

Graduate Trainee Opportunities: Some veterinarians who are transitioning from school to fieldwork are offered opportunities as graduate trainees where they are exposed to all aspects pertaining to animal production and breeding.

QN: NAGRC&DB has a number of internationally recognized veterinarians due to their breakthrough research, how did you achieve that?

Through the entity’s 15 specialized units, NAGRC&DB staff are mandated to develop and implement projects and programs for more efficient reproduction and breeding of animal genetic resources using appropriate and acceptable technologies. It is through these programs and projects that veterinarians make important discoveries which get published in high-impact international peer reviewed journals. The entity also supports veterinarians to pursue further training at MSc and Ph.D. levels in a bid to generate more knowledge and new concepts in their respective areas of specialization. Also, as a way of career advancement, the entity supports its staff to undertake leadership roles at regional and international member organizations, such as AU-IBAR, AfricaBP, etc.

QN: Genetic resources are one of the ever-improving aspects of farming. How is NAGRC & DB keeping up with this modernity in terms of human resources?

In order to keep our human resources up to date with the ever-changing technologies in the area of animal breeding, NAGRC&DB supports their staff to undertake both short-term and long-term training in their specialized areas of expertise.

QN: How does NAGRC & DB relate to the Uganda Veterinary Association?

NAGRC&DB ensures that all veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals within the entity are up to date with the subscription requirements of both UVA and UVB. NAGRC&DB is also one of the sponsors for UVA events such as the annual UVA Symposium and Annual General Assembly (AGM). NAGRC&DB in conjunction with UVA is in the process of retooling selected field veterinary surgeons in the areas of assisted reproductive technologies, especially AI and MOET. NAGRC&DB actively participates in the activities organized by UVA such as the WVA celebrations that are held in different parts of the country on a rotational basis.

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