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The establishment of the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) dates back from the colonial era when the East African Trypanosomiasis Research Organisation (EATRO) was founded in 1956 with a mandate to conduct research on Tsetse flies and Trypanosomiasis in both humans and livestock across Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania under the jurisdiction of the East African Common Services Organisation (EACSO) later renamed the East African Community (EAC).

Post independence, EATRO was handed over to the Government of Uganda in 1977 following the collapse of the East African Community and renamed the Uganda Trypanosomiasis Research Organisation (UTRO). As UTRO the organisation’s mandate was to conduct research on tsetse flies on human and animal Trypanosomiasis in Uganda. In 1992, UTRO was merged with the then Animal Health Research Center (AHRC) in Entebbe to form the Livestock Health Research Institute (LIRI) to handle livestock health and theriogenology, including sleeping sickness in man. Following enactment of the National Agricultural Research Act 2005, the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) for Uganda was established that comprises semi-autonomous National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) under the policy guidance of the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).

The NARIs are mandated to manage and conduct strategic agricultural research in Uganda with a focus on diverse agricultural commodities and environment. The National Livestock Resources Research Institute is one of 16 semi-autonomous national or public agricultural research institutes established with the purpose of providing agricultural research services with a focus on livestock, public health, environment, climate change and other emerging issues.

The Act further mandates  NaLIRRI as the public agricultural research institute responsible for research, promotion, dissemination and coordination of all related services in livestock nutrition, health, breeding, socio-economics, marketing and apiculture.

The National Livestock Resources Research Institute is headquartered in Tororo district in the eastern region of Uganda with sub-stations at Nakyesasa, Wakiso district central region and Serere in Serere district, the north eastern region of Uganda.