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Ministers Threaten to Sack RDCs over an Increase in Cattle theft and FMD Cases.

Isingiro, 

By Devine Atwine.

Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Lt.Col. Bright Rwamirama, the state minister for Animal Industry have threatened to sack all the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), especially in the western Cattle corridor Districts over the increase of Cattle theft and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) cases within their respective Districts.

While meeting the district officials and dairy farmers at Isingiro District Headquarters last week, both ministers also threatened to sack the district police commanders (DPCs), District Internal Security officers (DISOs), and officers’ in-charge of Criminal Investigations (OC CIDs) over failure to curb, arrest and investigate the culprits involved in spreading the foot and mouth disease (FMD) and stealing of cattle within the districts.  

In the meeting, Tumwebaze directed the security teams headed by RDCs in cattle corridor Districts especially in Isingiro District to arrest whoever suspected to be cattle thieves, take them to courts of law and remand them, if they fail that means they don’t qualify to be in offices.

He added “if you arrest any culprit and the court attempts to release him/her without a sound reason, don’t fight with them. Simply tell us, we shall report them to their bosses including President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the head of the country”.

Minister Frank Tumwebaze and Bright Rwamirama were in Isingiro District to Discuss with leaders and farmers how to curb and fight the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease. 

After the meeting, two ministers, District leaders, and farmers visited the Uganda-Tanzania border at Kikagate to see how security and local leaders at the border could curb the Uganda- Tanzania FMD transmission.

According to Aloysius Karugaba, the Isingiro probation officer, Foot and Mouth Disease broke out in areas of Endinzi Subcounty in April 2020. In April 2021, a butcher man in Kaberebere town council bought three (3) bulls from the Mbarara city abattoir which were incubating the disease. He infected the Disease and four (4) other farms in the neighborhood including the Masha sub-county.

He said “over 75 heads of cattle in 10 kraals out 1,500 were infected while 85, 000 heads of cattle were put at risk in Endizi sub county. In Masha Sub County, 7 kraals were infected with a cattle population of about 24,000 heads of cattle at risk”. 

FMD outbreaks had commonly been occurring in the sub-counties bordering Tanzania which include Endinzi, Mbaare, Bugango town council, Kashumba, and Kakamba.

According to Asiimwe Alice Kashure, the Chief Administrative Officer, Isingiro District, FMD is endemic in the district and it is mostly more pronounced during the dry season when animals congregate at communal watering points. It also roams in search of pastures.

She further revealed that the main causes of FMD are farmers themselves because there are farmers whose farms were taken over by the Uganda-Tanzania border re-demarcation exercise in 2003. In the District, they have thousands of cattle that stay in Uganda during the night and cross the border to Tanzania during the day.

She added “When the vaccination exercise is launched, these animals are difficult to trace. This problem is mostly found in Buhunga Village, Nyamarungi parish, and the Mbaare sub-county. Almost 90% of FMD outbreaks in Isingiro District originate from those areas ‘. 

Dairy farmers including the Nabimanya Ericson Notti, the Chairman Namisindo dairy farmers group, Nuwabine Enock, and Nuwagira Bernard among others requested the two ministers to facilitate all the Animal checkpoints to operate optimally if they want to control the cross border FMD transmission.

Nabimanya Ericson Notti who represented the farmers also requested the ministers through the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries to partner with the Tanzanian leadership to vaccinate all animals across border areas of the two countries, Uganda and Tanzania.

Isingiro District has a cattle population of over 180,000 head of cattle,250,000 goats,30,000 sheep, and 12000 pigs. “There are 25 milk collecting Centres collecting over 33,050 litres of milk per day.During the wet season, this goes up to 50,000Litres of milk per day. Our target is to push it to 80,000 litres per day”. Karugaba told the ministers.

However, Minister Frank Tumwebaze and Bright Rwamirama promised to prioritize high-risk Districts especially Isingiro District which borders Tanzania when the vaccination comes.

Tumwebaze further promised that he will sit down with other relevant leaders to look for immediate solutions for the challenges faced by the cattle corridor districts.

Challenges in the FMD management 

Alice, the CAO said the district has over 180,000 but due to the limited vaccine availability not even 50% of the cattle are vaccinated at a go.

She added “Vaccination would be more effective if the district can vaccinate at least 50% of its herds twice a year. In addition, due to limited vaccine availability, Goats and sheep are never vaccinated despite being susceptible to FMD and feeding with the animals’ ‘.

Karugaba also said “Inadequate transport for staff both at the district and sub counties. Some sub county staff hire boda bodas to carry out vaccinations because two departmental cars are in a sorry state”.

He added “The field cold chain facilities in all FMD high-risk sub-counties are inadequate among other challenges.

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