The University of Rwanda (UR), Umutara Campus on Wednesday started offering veterinary services to farmers in Eastern Province districts.
The outreach programme was commissioned at an animal surgical operation demonstration conducted by the university senior vets, in Kayonza District.
According to the veterinarians, the field services were initiated to ensure that farmers within the region get direct benefit of the university in their midst and also help students get hands on training.
Dr. Benon Asiimwe, one of the university vets, said that the service provided students with additional training in best practices for management of a wide variety of clinical cases, noting that the on-farm services was crucial for livestock farmers in the province.
“Clinicians will work together to provide services through the field services programme. Our veterinarians include those with broad experience and expertise as well as clinicians with species-specific expertise. So, we expect farmers in the province to benefit,” he said.
The university field services for farmers are offered at relatively low cost, while cows belonging to the vulnerable groups are treated freely.
Dr. Gerivazi Ndazigaruye, a lecturer, urged farmers to take advantage of the available services to keep their animals healthy.
“We have graduated over 200 veterinary students with enough skills to help farmers. This service is here to stay and we will be on call for anyone who needs our services,” he said.
According to him, farmers under the One Cow per Family initiative will have their cows treated for free, while for others, a major surgical operation on a cow will cost Rwf 15,000.
The team of doctors later conducted an experimental surgery to extract an imaginary nail, accidentally swallowed by a goat.
The exercise was witnessed by hundreds of curious farmers, who said that the university services were timely.
Emmanuel Safari, a farmer told The New Times that many of them lose their cows or goats, due to lack of access to veterinary services.
“We must be headed for sustainable farming...most farmers are seasonal because their animals die before they make bigger steps in the business. Cows die delivering, when they swallow unwanted objects, some get blind, etc. So, the field services of the university may be a solution,” he said.
Eastern Province has the largest population of cows in the country.