By Arthur Tumwesigye
Since November 2020, the entire cattle corridor has been under quarantine restricting movement and sale of livestock due to the widespread of foot and mouth disease in the area.
The Districts affected by this virus are Kotido, Nakapiripirit, and Kaabong, Kiboga, Moroto, Kiruhura, Rakai, Soroti, Nakasongola, Rakai Isingiro and Ntungamo
In all the aforementioned districts, livestock farming has for years been their sole source of livelihood. After the confirmation of the spread of foot and mouth disease in these districts, livestock products such as ghee, milk and beef from the diseased areas were put under quarantine.
The quarantine which was imposed as a measure to control the spread of the disease from one area to another has made it difficult for both farmers and traders to put food on their tables and coins in their pockets.
Most of the farmers are chocking on high-interest rate loans, school-going children cannot get tuition and are currently manning village quarantine centres, the prices of cattle have drastically reduced, some districts cannot sell their milk, cattle traders are out of business and the worst of it all, drugs for other animal diseases like East Coast Fever (ECF) have been duplicated, and animals are dying in large numbers because farmers don’t have the cash to procure the expensive quality drugs.
Notwithstanding the above daunting challenges faced by the farmers, quarantine has proved to be the effective method of controlling the spread of the disease among livestock
Unfortunately, most politicians were politicizing this deadly virus for their political influence in the diseased areas. Most of the aspiring candidates suspended quarantine during the election period and that explains the current widespread of the virus to almost every sub-county in the entire cattle corridor
Some of the districts were vaccinated, however, the continued movement of cattle from diseased areas has undermined the vaccination efforts.
Some complaints have also been made on the inefficacy of some vaccines administered to curb the disease.
Credit must be given where it is due, to Gen. Elly Tumwine’s involvement in enforcing the quarantine has reduced the illegal movement of cattle and the corruption levels of some veterinary officers who issue movement permits to cattle from diseased areas.
The illegal issuance of permits by some corrupt DVOs put both the consumers of beef and non-diseased areas at a great health risk.
Gen Tumwine’s support has seen some traders with fake permits and corrupt DVOs arrested and punished.
The traders who had started slaughtering cows and transporting beef from diseased areas were also reprimanded and the vice has reduced.
The tough deployment for strict enforcement and supervision of the quarantine has enabled some districts to open the sale of milk for farmers to support their families.
Currently, Uganda cannot export any livestock product before it has been internationally declared free from foot and mouth disease.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, quarantine creates a dire situation for farmer’s livelihood but it’s a bitter pill that cures the disease.
The writer of a student of media and national security.
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