Uganda to partner with Botswana to develop foot and mouth vaccine


The Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) is set to collaborate with Ugandan scientists to develop a vaccine for foot and mouth disease (FMD), which has been endemic since 1953. 

This was revealed in a meeting between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and scientists from the Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) earlier this week at State House, Entebbe.

Masisi, Uganda and Botswana FMD vaccine, Museveni,
Cooperation for progression — Botswana and Uganda are set to partner in developing a vaccine for foot and mouth disease, which has been endemic in Uganda over the years. 

The engagement was a follow up on the bilateral meeting between President Museveni and President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi of Botswana on 22nd January, 2024 at Speke Resort, Munyonyo, on the sidelines of G77+ China Third South Summit.

Ugandan Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Mr Frank Tumwebaze confirmed that scientists from Botswana Vaccine Institute agreed to partner with the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO, to develop a vaccine to combat foot and mouth disease in Uganda.

“In our discussions, they agreed to the idea that they can partner with us- NARO, to develop their kind vaccine. They are now serving Southern Africa, so they believe they can also help us to produce for East Africa,” Hon. Tumwebaze said.

Botswana Vaccine Institute scientists have since collected samples from the cattle affected by foot and mouth disease in the cattle corridor and other parts of the country affected by the disease. These samples will be taken to Botswana Vaccine Institute to find a vaccine that will help prevent the infection. 

The Technical Director of Botswana Vaccine Institute, Mr. Mokganedi Mokopasetso said that while collecting samples, they visited three districts in the western part of the country, three districts in the Eastern part of the country and they were also able to visit some sub counties where they visited farms.

Masisi, Uganda and Botswana FMD vaccine, Museveni,
President Museveni receiving the scientists from Botswana Vaccine Institute at State House earlier this week. 

Mr. Andrew Madeswi, the CEO of the Botswana Vaccine Institute, said that the mission of collecting samples has been achieved, the next step is testing the samples, and the final findings of the report will be out by March 29, 2024.

President Museveni welcomed the scientists from Botswana and agreed to the partnership to develop a vaccine for the disease in Uganda.

In January, because of FMD, Uganda enforced quarantines in 32 districts in the cattle corridor because of an outbreak first reported in November.

The main indigenous cattle breeds in Uganda are the Ankole Longhorn, the Small East African Shorthorn Zebu, and the Nganda.

According to the country's National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), the national herd stands at 14.5 million, the most of which are Ankole. The agricultural ministry has since revealed that Uganda’s total susceptible animal herd that requires FMD vaccination as per current estimate is 4 million.

Further Cooperation in Agriculture

The countries are also planning to deepen their cooperation in the agriculture sector. President Museveni revealed that he had engaged in talks with his counterpart to give Botswana access to its maize stockpile, with surplus maize sold as animal feed.

“The other time, I also discussed with President Mokgweetsi about animal feeds and if the Botswana companies could come here because we have a lot of maize. For instance, the other year we produced five million metric tons, but we consumed one million metric tons internally. 

“So, if there are companies that want animal feeds for local consumption and also for export back to Botswana, they are welcome,” President Museveni said.

Minister Tumwebaze also said that they convinced the delegation from Botswana to also buy milk from Uganda, explaining that it is of high quality, and it is not from the affected areas where there is foot and mouth disease.

Current trade between Uganda and Botswana is insignificant but more advantageous to the latter. However, the two countries have since agreed to establish a joint commission for cooperation.

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