Participatory livestock farmer training for improvement of animal health in rural and peri-urban smallholder dairy herds in Jinja, Uganda
Byarugaba, D. K.
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Within the framework of a research project investigating methods to decrease mastitis incidence, farmer groups for participatory training in a modified Farmer Field School approach were initiated in order to improve animal health and farmer knowledge in mastitis control technologies in smallholder dairy farms in the Jinja district of Uganda. Two peri-urban groups and one rural group met for common learning and training two hours per fortnight during a 12-month period, facilitated by two local extension agents together with one or two scientists from Makerere University. Farmers rotated each time between farms owned by group participants, which demanded mutual trust, openness and respect. From their own assessment the farmers felt they had improved their milk production and reduced mastitis incidence on their farms. In an evaluation workshop, they articulated how they had built up common knowledge and experience from training in systematic clinical examination of animals, evaluation of the farm environments, and identification of improvements. Much of the acquired new knowledge was about basic dairy cow management and husbandry practices. In addition, they gave examples of how they were now used as resource persons in their local communities. Principles of learning and empowerment are discussed.