Thursday, March 26, 2009

Farm Visits #2

The students keep me busy during our practical field work, so I have not yet had a chance to take photographs of our activities, despite my best intentions. They have been learning basic clinical exam techniques, diagnostic rectal palpation, blood collection, mastitis testing, and various other diagnostic procedures. They greatly enjoy the hands on work. Occasionally we have the unfortunate event of a sick animal on the farm. The diagnosis of these animals has been helpful for the students and for me. Together we have diagnosed liver flukes and East Coast Fever (a tick borne disease) in some of the calves here.

Outside of class, I have been invited to a few farms to learn more about agriculture here in Uganda. The majority of farms are mixed. This allows plants that complement each other to grow together. For example, in the hot Ugandan sun, coffee, beans and other crops would quickly dry out if planted in the open. Instead, they plant these crops within their banana plantations to allow them to grow in partial shade. Most farms also have at least one papaya tree, avocado, mango, passion fruit vine, etc, providing a constant source of fresh fruit.

There are usually a variety of animals of the farm as well. Cattle may range from 1 to 30 head depending on the size of the land. Most farmers pasture their cattle and some supplement with protein and banana peels to increase milk production from 5 L per day to 20 L per day.

In addition to cows, a farm may have pigs, goats, sheep, guinea hens, bees and chickens. Some of our friends keep several hundred laying hens, although we have yet to visit their farms to see the set up for these hens. Bees are also a popular source of income, Although the hives look different than our hives in Canada, the honey is delicious. All of this may be found on less than 2 acres of land. One farmer we visited also has a small pond on his 2 acres of land where he raises tilapia.

The most interesting vegetable we have met here so far is called manetti. It is in the squash/cucumber family, but tastes more like a water chestnut. It is very prickly on the outside, but white and crispy on the inside. We were given two vegetables to try. We ate one. The other one decided to grow before we ate it, so we have planted it next to our fence. We will see how much it grows before we leave.

1 comment:

Justin said...

Those manetti sound cool.