Butcheries in Rubavu district, western province, have been warned over poor hygiene and working in illegal places like homes, which poses health risks to the consumers.
Vincent Niyiragira, the inspector of animal resources at the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) says that hygiene standards have to be met by all butcheries. He says that meeting hygiene requirements is the major challenge facing the meat shops.
The District veterinary officer Elijah Habiyambere says that butcheries have in recent days failed to maintain hygiene standards stipulated by the ministerial orders and the practice of selling meat in illegal places has subsequently increased.
They are obliged to uphold hygiene standards according to ministerial guidelines No.005/2006, 002/2006, 004/2006 - which establishes setting up of butcheries, licensing transportation of meat and animal product businesses, and necessities of opening up abattoirs respectively.
The lack of hygiene is evident in most of the butcheries around Gisenyi town where meat is traded in open places, and waste water from it flows to the roadsides, attracting flies thus posing health risks to the people.
Most of the butcheries sell meat either in Rwanda or DRC and they sometimes cross the border carrying meet on their heads.
Habiyambere says that a lot has been done to educate the proprietors of butcheries but they don't improve.
Though some of the dealers acknowledge the district efforts in promoting hygiene, they also state that they operate under very poor conditions especially in old fashioned houses and surroundings which are not favorable to ensure hygiene standards.
"We try our best to maintain hygiene in this business, but the district needs to intervene and maintain the drainage and sewage systems which are on the roadsides", one meet vendor said.
Another trader said that 90% of the meat clients come from Congo and they don't mind about hygiene, which floods the Rwandan market with illegal sales as a way of dealing with market demand for meat.
However, Habiyambere said that one of the measures to be implemented will be to relocate all butcheries in new buildings and to continue educating the traders to work in a more professional manner.
"This can be a risk for both the traders and consumers, if meat is not clean and traded in illegal ways. This, in the end will also affect even those who follow the guidelines. We advise the meat dealers to come up clean and work like professional traders to avoid risks and tarnishing the image of others" Habiyambere said.
The meat dealers however agreed to improve the level of hygiene and quality of services but also called for more support and advocacy in terms of providing facilities that will improve the meat sector in the region.
Failure to abide by the ministerial guidelines is punished by law. Illegal selling of meat can lead to fines between Rwf100.000 and Rwf5miilion or a three year jail term.
Rwanda's meat and animal skin has started being exported to Democratic Republic of Congo, and Brazzaville.