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Prolonged Quarantine on Livestock Movement Irks Gulu leaders, Businessmen

Gulu District was placed under animal quarantine by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries in September last year following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the Sub-counties of Palaro, Awach, and Paicho.
some of the calves in one of the kraals belonging to a pastoralist in Atiak Subcounty in Amuru District.

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A section of businessmen and leaders in Gulu District are unhappy with the prolonged quarantine imposed on the movement of cattle.

Gulu District was placed under animal quarantine by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries in September last year following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the Sub-counties of Palaro, Awach, and Paicho. The decision came with a ban on the movement of cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs from the hotspot areas outside the district as a measure to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease to other areas.

But Gulu District Chairperson, Christopher Opiyo Ateker says that nearly five months later, no new cases of Foot and Mouth disease have been registered. He says that the prolonged quarantine is disastrous  for livestock traders and consumers of livestock products.

Ateker says veterinary officials from the Ministry should consider lifting the quarantine to enable livestock farmers and traders to resume normal business. He notes that last year, the district wrote a letter to Dr Rose Anna Ademun, the Commissioner of Animal Health at the Ministry of Agriculture to lift the ban and send a team to conduct a verification exercise but they received no feedback.

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Gulu Livestock Association Chairperson Kennedy Odong says that business has been slow for livestock traders due to the prolonged ban on the movement of animals. He adds that veterinary officials from the Ministry should have conducted assessments on the status of the disease over the last five months.

“We don’t feel fine with this long quarantine. The majority of livestock traders are feeling the impact of this quarantine which has affected their business because they can’t sell their cattle outside the district,” He told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Monday.

Dr Paul Lumu, a Senior Veterinary Officer at the Ministry of Agricilture acknowledges receiving letter from the district but notes that it was written at a time when many officials had already taken a Christmas break. Dr Lumu however faults the district leaders for failing to enforce the directives arguing that cattle were being transported out of the district despite the quarantine.

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Dr Lumu says a team from the Ministry will soon visit the district to assess the status of Foot and Mouth Disease before the quarantine is lifted.

Dr Tashoroora Bariremwa Optato, a Principal Veterinary Officer at the Ministry says that Foot and Mouth Disease is very contagious adding that while lifting quarantine, all due diligence has to be undertaken to assess the situation on the ground.

The request by the district leaders and businessmen to lift the ban on cattle movement coincides with a fresh outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the neighboring Nwoya District where at least 40 samples drawn from 100 cattle in the district recently tested positive for the disease.

It also comes at the backdrop of an order by Gen. David Muhoozi, the State Minister for Internal Affairs for the eviction of pastoralists from Northern Uganda after the expiry of a two months ultimatum given by President Museveni. Gen. Muhoozi who is heading a three-man committee tasked with the eviction of the pastoralists says the operation code-named “Safisha Kilimo Na Mifugo” commences with the eviction of those occupying government lands.

But Dr Optato during a review meeting on eviction of the pastoralists held at Fourth Infantry Division Headquarters says MAAIF is making arrangements for vaccines to vaccinate all animals against FMD before being relocated out of the region.  

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