Kalungu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Cattle keepers in Kalungu district are struggling to feed their animals following the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease-FMD.
In January, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Industry confirmed the presence of FDM on cattle farms in sub-counties Lwabenge and Bukulula, and Lukaya town council. The ministry ordered for enforcement of livestock movement restrictions in the area as a way of containing its spread.
However, farmers in the quarantined areas are decrying the restrictions arguing that it has become very difficult for them to feed their animals, which are on the verge of starvation.
Sulait Kabiito, one of the prominent cattle keepers in Bukulula Sub County narrates that the FMD outbreak coincided with a dry season when pastures are too scarce, indicating that he is currently struggling to look for grass on which he can feed his animals.
He explains that in dry seasons, farmers are used to collectively graze their animals from the low-laying areas and swamps that remain as available alternative sources of water and growing pastures, however, the practice has now become risky to the safety of the animals.
Godfrey Bazanye, another cattle keeper argues that the topography of their area does not support each of them to have water ponds on their farms, thereby relying on community valley water-dams where animals can now contract the FMD virus through contacts.
He says the situation requires them to hire vehicles to transport grass to their farms, which according to him is too costly.
Yusufu Nsubuga another cattle keeper in Lwabenge Sub County has asked the Ministry of Agriculture to consider their area for massive vaccination against the FMD virus, to save them from the looming losses.
Nsubga says that besides the direct financial implications that come with the ban on the sale of livestock and its products, they are afraid of losing their animals to the contagious infection due to a lack of technical teams to offer remedies.
Richard Kyabaggu, the Kalungu LCV Chairperson says they are aware of all the associated challenges. He however adds that their hope is now vested in the Ministry of Agriculture which promised to support massive vaccination of all cattle in the area against FMD.
The District Production department statistical data indicate that Kalungu district’s cattle population is estimated to be 40,892 heads and 14,018 goats.