By Yosam Gucwaki
Livestock farmers in Masindi district are jubilating after the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal husbandry (MAAIF) lifted the livestock quarantine which had lasted for almost a year.
The lifting of the quarantine was announced by Dr Fred Ssebuguzi, the district veterinary officer, at the end of last week during the livestock farmers’ meeting which was organised by the Mansuru Bwohe, the LC3 chairperson Kijunjubwa sub-county, at Bukooba II village.
According to the letter authored by Deo B Ndumu, the commissioner for animal health in the agriculture ministry, the quarantine was imposed following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Kijunjubwa sub-county Masindi district on July 25, 2022 prohibiting the movement of cattle, sheep, goats and their products as prescribed by the animal disease Act, Cap 38.
“The animal movement restrictions that have been in force coupled with increased community awareness about FMD and the strategic ring vaccines carried out in the affected areas have brought the disease under control. This is supported by the FMD status report. The purpose of this letter is, therefore, to inform you that quarantine restrictions that had been imposed on Kijunjubwa sub-county due to FMD are lifted with immediate effect,” the letter dated June 7, 2023, read in part.
The announcement was welcomed by livestock farmers who had been for long waiting for the lifting of the restrictions.
Farmers affected According to the cattle farmers, they have been greatly affected by the quarantine, adding that for the one year they have been under quarantine, they have had no bargaining power.
“A cow which is supposed to be sold at sh1m could be sold at sh800,000 because we had no option. Even paying school fees was a problem,” Kakuru Muhoozi, a cattle farmer, said. Other farmers said the authorities delayed to lift the quarantine, saying the sub-county got rid of the disease about six months ago, but wondered why it was not being lifted.
Juss Yahaya, a cattle farmer who is also the LC3 chairperson Kijunjubwa town council, said the cattle farmers have suffered a lot during thequarantine, noting that 80% of Kijunjubwa’s economy is livestock farming.
“It pains so much to milk your cow and later pour away the milk. The people have been struggling to survive because livestock is their only source of livelihood,” he said.
Farmers fault each other Yahaya faulted the LC1 chairpersons and a section of livestock farmers for failing to play their role in fighting the persistent FMD in the area.
He added that some people bring animals in the area from the neighbouring districts such as Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Kiryandongo and Kyankwanzi knowing that they are sick.
FMD broke out last year after the farmers had spent about four years in the quarantine.
“We need to wake up as livestock farmers and the LC1 leaders and play our role. We should not allow any unnecessary movement of animals in the area because they are the trouble causers,” Yahaya said.
Godfrey Kwikiriza, a cattle farmer, concurred with Yahaya explaining that there was need for them to become aggressive towar the people ferrying sick animals in the area by arresting them.
Stephen Byenkya, the LC1 chairperson of Kyangamwoyo village blamed, some security officials for clearing the movement of animals without ascertaining whether they were sick or not.
“People move with guns. When you ask as an area leader, they intimidate you. Our lives are at stake. The people moving animals with guns are disrespecting the local leadership. Higher authorities should help us,” Patrick Sunday, a local leader, said.
Dr Ssebuguzi challenged the livestock farmers in the area to always be vigilant regarding those ferrying in animals by reporting to security and himself all the suspected illegal movements of the animals.