Measuring the extent of a risky practice: Using toxic chemicals on cattle for tick control in Uganda
- Impact Area
By Richard Ariong, Jordan Chamberlin, Sarah Wairimu Kariuki, and Bjorn Van Campenhout
OPEN ACCESS | CC-BY-4.0
The dairy sub-sector in Uganda has witnessed a remarkable transformation over the last few decades. Just ten years ago, dairy exports were negligible; today, dairy comes in third after coffee and fish as the country’s top agricultural export earner. This transformation is especially apparent in Uganda’s southwest, where a steady supply of raw milk, a broad network of milk collection centers, and the arrival of a handful of large processors have provided a promising context for dairy value chain upgrading.
Yet recently, the industry has faced a new problem—an increase in cattle tick infestations. In recent fieldwork, we heard numerous stories of farmers spraying their animals with non-veterinary pesticides and insecticides (sometimes in combination with acaricides, anti-tick veterinary medicines) to control tick infestations. While this approach sometimes works to kill ticks, it also can cause serious health issues—often fatal—for the cows being treated. These off-label “concoctions” are not only harmful for the animals, but also for the farmers applying them, and may translate into a public health hazard if they end up in milk.