Livestock farmers and traders in Sembabule and Gomba have demanded government lifts a ban imposed on the sale and transportation of livestock in the districts.
In April last year, government through the Ministry of Agriculture, declared a quarantine in both districts and indefinitely closed cattle markets to avert the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
FMD is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed or divided hooves animals.
The herdsmen in the two district claim that authorities have not bothered to lift the ban imposed three years ago yet their areas are now free from the disease.
They allege that the situation has left most of them in poverty as they entirely depend on cattle as their source of revenue.
Foot and Mouth Disease was first detected in Uganda in 1953 and since then, it occurs almost annually and doesn’t seem to follow a particular pattern.
In most cattle corridor districts, the quarantine has lasted for more than three years due to sporadic outbreak of the disease.
Mr Joseph Kazoora, a livestock farmer in Lugusulu Sub-county, Sembabule District has asked authorities to issue permits to cattle dealers after inspection, claiming the quarantine period which is not specified has encouraged smuggling of animals .
“The FMD outbreak has been exaggerated, some traders are smuggling animals out of the district and if the animals they taking are sick, the disease could have spread almost everywhere by now,” Mr Kazoora said.
Mr James Asiimwe, a farmer from Ntuusi Sub-county, said the ban came at a time when they were still battling drug-resistant ticks and had spent a lot of money on treatment.
“This [treatment of cattle] requires money which is only realised from livestock trade, but we cannot brave this without generating income. Some of us are now using bat poison despite its dangers like making cows lose sight,” Mr Asiimwe said.
Mr James Gumisiriza, the head of herdsmen in Gomba District, said the district is free from FMD and farmers should be allowed to trade.
“How long should we wait to have the ban lifted? The disease [FMD] seems to have become chronic and even in areas where we don’t have it, we are told that is there ,what should we do?” he asked.
According to Mr Gumisiriza, currently farmers cannot afford buying acaricides to spray their animals because of ban. But Dr Kaddu Nsubuga, the Gomba District veterinary officer, said the farmers are making desperate claims, saying the disease is still a threat to livestock and they cannot just lift the ban.
“If individual farmers have realised relief at their farms it doesn’t mean that the entire district is safe.The situation is still bad and it is the reason why we are still carrying out vaccination,” he said.
To completely contain Foot and Mouth Disease, Dr Nsubuga said livestock farmers need to carry out routine vaccinations of up to 80 per cent of the cattle population at intervals of six months to five years, which most them have failed to do.
“I understand farmers are financially bleeding, but they have to understand that the ban is not hurting them alone. The district is equally affected because we no longer get local revenue,” Dr Nsubuga said.
According to Mr John Kafeero, a veterinary expert, it takes between three to six months to lift a ban following an outbreak of any livestock disease.
Ms Joy Kabatsi, the State minister for Animal Husbandry, said cattle traders especially in Sembabule have continued to defy the ban which has affected government efforts to contain the disease.
“We are let down by traders and some farmers who do not want to report those who defy the ban,” Ms Kabatsi told Daily Monitor in an interview recently.