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Ministers clash over cattle quarantine enforcement amid fresh foot and mouth disease outbreak

FILE PHOTO: Gen Elly Tumwine is clashing with State Minister in charge of Animal Industry Joy Kabasti over methods of cattle quarantine in the cattle corridor.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | In the wake of the fresh foot and mouth disease outbreak within the cattle corridor, the two ministries mandated to champion the fight against trans-boundary diseases, FMD in particular, are embroiled in a fight on who takes lead and how the cattle quarantine should be enforced.

Although primarily animal health and their related issues fall under the Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Ministry-MAIF, government reinforced it with the Security Ministry given of the trans-boundary spread of FMD and the actors involved.

The two ministries seem to be working in parallel to each with the State Minister in charge of Animal Industry Joy Kabasti, blaming her security counterpart, Gen Elly Tumwine of being ‘arrogant and too harsh’ while enforcing the cattle quarantine.

With the frequent occurrences of FMD in Uganda, government has been imposing quarantines to control the movement of diseased animals to uninfected areas.

Although the ban seems to be working in some areas, authorities in the Agriculture and security ministries are disagreeing on the quarantine enforcement tactics amid a fresh outbreak in the cattle corridor.

Kabasti says a stakeholder’s meeting hosted by Mpigi district last year agreed that the quarantine be reduced to specific sub- counties where the disease has been reported instead of the entire district or sub region, a proposal their counterparts from the security ministry have failed to observe.

She says all what the officers from the Security ministry have on their mind is stopping movement of all animals regardless of where they are coming from, which is jeopardizing the animal industry and causing more loses to herders who are already strained by  the cattle diseases.

She notes that in many incidents, officers acting on orders of Gen Tumwine have mistreated livestock farmers, even those living in disease free areas by impounding their cattle even when they present valid permits.

Gen Tumwine, who accepts to have been harsh while enforcing the quarantine, says he is soon tightening the grip to become harsher so as to fight FMD and kick it out of Uganda.

He says through their means they had fought the disease, which saw quarantines lifted in some areas but corrupt officials from the Agriculture Ministry, some district leaders and at times officers within security circles adamantly started moving diseased animals creating a fresh outbreak.

He says that they have laid strategies this time around to give severe punishment to whoever will fail to adhere to the quarantine.

Gen Tumwine further notes that they have identified corrupt officials who are failing efforts to end FMD from Uganda and will sooner than later arrest them.

Kabatsi says although they are all fighting to get rid of the cattle disease from the Uganda, Tumwine’s military mentality might not help.

Moses Ninsiima, a herder from Sembabule-Gomba, says that as the two bicker, farmers have been left at crossroads  and confused on whose orders they should follow.

“The ministry of agriculture at times allow herder in disease free areas to move cattle but then if you do so then security officer impound them. they should harmonies positions for the betterment of all,” said Ninsiima.

The cost of FMD to Uganda is coming in two-folds as there is always death of animals and low milk production among infected animals in addition to loss of export trade due to rejection of products from a disease-infected country.

The disease has greatly affected farmers and led to  a fall in local revenues in districts within the cattle corridor.

Uganda has since received 15 million euros from the European Union part of,  which is going to support animal health by enforcing strategies to curb disease outbreak, research and establishment of holding grounds.

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