Nakasongola, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is a sigh of relief in Nakasongola district following a decision by the authorities to relax the livestock quarantine, which has allowed residents to sell animals and raise money for Christmas.
Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries slapped a ban on the movement of animals and their products Nakitoma, Wabinyonyi Sub counties and Migyera town five months ago following an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease-FMD.
The Nakasongola District Veterinary Office enforced the ban, which saw the closure of butcheries and livestock markets in the affected areas to contain the spread of the disease.
However, on Monday, Pastoralists through their area Councilors petitioned Nakasongola District demanding the lifting of the quarantine for Christmas.
Samuel Butagasa Mwesezeki, the Nakitoma Sub county LC V councilor explained that pastoralists are living in abject poverty because of the quarantine.
He said the pastoralists were also unhappy there they families would miss meat this festive season.
Butagasa pleaded with the district to lift the quarantine to save the pastoralists and their families, saying no new case had been registered in several months.
As a result, the District Council and Veterinary Office resolved to allow the pastoralists to slaughter animals this festive season within the confines of their farms and eat the meat there.
The LC V Chairperson, Sam Kigula, says they also allowed the pastoralists to load animals for sale on condition that they transported directly to abattoirs for slaughter as opposed to public markets.
He however, said no meat stall or cattle market in the affected area will be allowed to sell meat. He asked the pastoralists to observe the guidelines to prevent the reoccurrence of the outbreak.
On Tuesday, butcheries remained closed. Dr. Gerald Kitaka, the Nakasongola District Production Officer, said they are unable to lift the quarantine completely since there are registering fresh cases of FMD in other areas.
He says lifting the quarantine completely may lead to the spread of the disease, which can derail efforts to eradicate it from the district. Dr. Kitaka however, says there is no danger if the pastoralists slaughter and eat animals on their farms as directed.
In Nakaseke, the authorities have maintained a total quarantine in Ngoma Town council and Kinoni sub counties, which are battling the FMD. Fred Rwabirinda, the Nakaseke District Production Secretary, says the restrictions are meant to ensure that infected meat isn’t sold to other areas.
Luweero district is free from the Foot and Mouth Disease. However, the price of beef has increased from Shillings 10,000 to 12,000 a kilogram. Wilfred Nyombi and Nathan Matovu, both butchers in Luweero Central Market blame the price increase on the quarantine in Nakaseke and Nakasongola districts where they buy meat.