The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform will upgrade the Okapya Livestock Development Centre to help farmers artificially inseminate cattle in the region, and preserve the quality sperm of high-quality Sanga/Nguni bulls.
This would help improve the now considered poor livestock production and reproduction, as well as tackle the in-breeding challenge within most cattle herds in the northern communal areas (NCAs).
According to a statement from the ministry, the European Union will assist it.
“Extension and mentorship programmes will be carried out to promote bull exchange programmes between villages, constituencies, and regions,” the statement says, adding that as part of the bull improvement initiatives, farmers will be encouraged to castrate inferior bulls at an early stage.
According to the ministry, the artificial insemination centre will provide farmers with insemination services at subsidised rates to improve the quality of their herds.
The centre and related activities will be managed by the ministry’s directorate of agriculture research development and the directorate of veterinary services.
“Budgetary provisions will be made through the ministry’s operational and development budgets to maintain existing and construct new infrastructure at the Okapya centre, which will be used to assist farmers with breeding programmes, provide training, and conserve animals with pure superior qualities,” the ministry says.
Indigenous eco-type cows and bulls, especially from the Kunene region, will be procured from local farmers to promote the breeding and conservation of the eco-type, which will be kept at the Okapya Livestock Development Centre for further development.
Conservation and breeding efforts for eco-types from the north-central, Zambezi, and Kavango East and West regions are already ongoing at other livestock development centres.
“Okapya will be a centre to ensure that high-quality Sanga/Nguni bulls from various areas of the NCAs are kept in order to ensure that the gene pool is as diverse as possible.
“Collected semen will be freeze-stored for future use, and farmers in the NCAs will be encouraged to make use of semen from these bulls to improve their herd quality,” the statement says.
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