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While most farmers in developing countries grow crops, raising livestock is what really moves the needle toward food security and farmer resilience. Collaborating with experts from Iowa State and Makerere Universities, the center has successfully integrated poultry, pigs and goats into the region’s farming operations, school activities, Nutrition Education Centers, and Youth Entrepreneurship Programs.

Livestock Venn DiagramBuilding on the success of farmer training in agronomy best practices, the CSRL livestock programs and management trainings have resulted in significant progress in childhood and adult nutrition, food production efficiency, and overall quality of life.

Some of the approaches we utilize include:

  • Diversify available food sources
  • Promote livestock as a source of income
  • Facilitate livestock savings programs
  • Provide livestock check-ups by community-based animal health workers
  • Incorporate animal protein into school lunch programs
  • Improve livestock management practices through regular trainings (e.g. feeding practices, structure design and construction, livestock vaccinations, litter management)
  • Provide a working example; Kurshid livestock demonstration area at Mpirigiti Rural Training Centre
  • Assist with construction of smallholder livestock facilities
  • Supply livestock to help start new farm operations or improve existing ones
  • Promote appropriate and sustainable feed sources
  • Conduct farm visits to community farmers, and youth at the schools every month
  • Organize trainings on beneficial breeding practices
  • Facilitate access to improved livestock genetics
  • Promote water collection and storage for livestock and household use
  • Encourage collaboration among neighbors to keep more animals

Continuing goals include:

  • Help livestock farmers increase their sustainable production of livestock and consumption of animal source foods
  • Provide additional livestock management trainings
  • Install water collection and storage systems for livestock and household use
  • Facilitate collective purchase and bulk storage of livestock feeds for greater affordability
  • Expand farmer support through cows or heifers
  • Improve genetics for increased milk and meat production
  • Promote formation of marketing groups to enhance livestock product marketing
  • Develop best practices publications in both English and Lusoga languages

Bovine artificial insemination will boost milk production

bovine inseminationIt might sound far-fetched, but Iowa State University experts are helping Ugandan farmers get more milk from fewer cows than they could previously.

The formula begins with bovine artificial insemination. Local cows are impregnated with imported frozen dairy cattle semen so they produce calves with a higher genetic potential for milk production. Once the calves produced by artificial insemination reach sexual maturity, they will be mated. After the pregnant females give birth and then begin lactating, farmers will see the benefits of increased milk production. Just a couple of improved cows will generate more milk than could be produced by at least twice as many cows before.

For the smallholder farmers who own cattle, increased milk production means more milk for their families, especially to combat stunting, hunger, and malnutrition in their children. It also enables farmers to sell or barter extra milk to improve their family’s standard of living, or even use the extra milk to make and sell value-added products like cheese.

The artificial insemination project was launched by Curtis Youngs, professor of animal science and the M.E. Ensminger Endowed Chair of International Animal Agriculture at ISU, shortly after he became CSRL associate director for livestock development in April 2020. With expertise in the technologies of artificial insemination and embryo transfer, his goal is to bring enhanced production of animal-source foods to Uganda and other food-insecure areas around the world.

“The bovine artificial insemination project will yield a substantial long-term return on investment,” Youngs said. “We just need to be patient to see the results.”

The Iowa State University-Uganda Program gained access to superior cattle genetics through the global development branch of URUS, which supplied 1,320 doses of frozen dairy cattle semen from three breeds (Ayrshire, Jersey, and Holstein). In the future, URUS will partner with ISU-UP to organize and conduct educational sessions for Uganda smallholder farmers focused on bovine artificial insemination technology.

In addition to the benefit to individual farmers, there is an environmental advantage because the artificial insemination program breeds more efficient livestock that require fewer natural resources—land, feed, water—to produce a gallon of milk. The ISU-UP livestock program further reduces the carbon footprint of animal agriculture in the Kamuli District by returning animal waste to the land to enhance soil fertility.

To make a gift to the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, please click here to go directly to the ISU Foundation, or contact Sarah Roelfs at (515) 294-1031 or