Assessment of the effect of COVID-19 lockdown on poultry farmers in Kampala and Wakiso Districts, Uganda
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Poultry production is a rapidly evolving sector worldwide. This is due to the rapidly growing human population, limited land in urban areas, and rising global food insecurity. This has pressed a very high demand on the agricultural sector to produce high-quality food in the shortest time possible. The poultry value chain consists of housing and related structures, replacement stock, feeds & feeding, health care, and marketing. This requires movement and interactions among value chain actors. In situations like the institution of a lockdown, the poultry industry faces a great risk which puts the future and livelihoods of the value chain actors at risk due to restrictions in movement and social interactions. In Uganda, few studies have been conducted on the effect of the lockdown on the agriculture sector which contributes a high portion to the national GDP. The study aimed at assessing the challenges, direct economic losses faced by poultry farmers during the lockdown, and review of diagnostic cases brought to Makerere University veterinary laboratories before, during, and after lockdown. The study was cross-sectional carried out in Kampala and Wakiso districts using a systematic questionnaire and 77 farmers were interviewed. Thirty and forty-seven of these farmers were located within Kampala and Wakiso District respectively. Out of these, 45% of the farmers did not have any biosecurity mechanism at their premises. It was found out that most farmers (70%) faced challenges in feeding birds due to high costs of transportation, substandard feeds, high costs of feeds, and limited or no market for their products. Farmers faced direct economic losses through mortalities and low prices for their products. This indicates that the lockdown negatively impacted poultry farmers in Uganda. This was due to the restrictions in movement and socio-economic interaction among individuals. Therefore, the government should increase funding, regulation of the poultry sector, sensitization of poultry farmers, and construction of more veterinary laboratories around the country. Farmers should also improve on their biosecurity mechanisms, advertisement, and preservation of their products if any barricade arises in the value chain. More research should be done nationwide to determine the overall effect of the lockdown on the livestock sector.