Around a quarter of all Ugandan households have cattle. The diary cattle is a reliable source of animal food, guarantees cash income from the sale of milk, cheese or yogurt and is also a high asset. Nevertheless, currently estimated, about 29% of all Ugandan children under five suffer from growth delays due to micronutrient deficiency. Especially in rural areas, the rates are very high (1).
Scientists from the International Food Policy Research Insitute (IFPRI) in Kampala and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have now studied the suitability of genetically engineered, more efficient cow breeds to improve the quality of child nutrition as well as the economic situation of 907 Ugandan households (2). They were able to build on positive experiences from Kenya and Northern Rwanda as well as Uganda (3).
The introduction of new cattle breeds increased milk production by around 200%. Children who drank the milk of these cows were larger in comparison to peers in other households, so they were less affected by stunting. These positive effects were particularly noticeable in large farms (4). Improved livestock breeds could be a possible way for so-called “nutrition-sensitive” agriculture to improve child nutrition in Uganda.
(1) Cf. UBoS and ICF. Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2016: Key Indicators Report. Kampala, Uganda and Rockville, Maryland, USA, 2017, S. 29 ff, available at https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/PR80/PR80.pdf
(2) NS Kabunga et al. Does ownership of improved dairy cow breeds improve child nutrition? A pathway analysis for Uganda. PLoS One. 2017 Nov 10;12(11):e0187816. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187816. eCollection 2017, available at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0187816
(3) Exemplary EM Mosites et al. The Relationship between Livestock Ownership and Child Stunting in Three Countries in Eastern Africa Using National Survey Data. PLOS ONE. 2015;10(9):e0136686. pmid:26361393, available at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0136686
(4) Cf. 2, Table 4, results in summary