5 January 2013

Rwanda: Beef Shortage Hits Nyagatare

Nyagatare-Residents of Nyagatare district have since forgotten the taste of meat, after an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease prompted the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (MINAGRI) to impose quarantine.

MINAGRI recently imposed quarantine in the Eastern Province districts of Kirehe, Gatsibo, Nyagatare and Kayonza after an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.

Hotels and bars no longer serve meat, and depend on limited access to chicken.

A number of Nyagatare district dwellers that talked to The New Times, yesterday, expressed concern that scarcity of meat would take long and that the quarantine had hit the people hard.

Richard Mugisha, 36, a resident of Karangazi trading centre, said; "We were used to a mixture of meat and bananas locally known as 'Agatogo' as our breakfast...this time we eat bananas mixed with groundnuts. It is a shame! The same thing is in our homes, so changing lifestyle suddenly is not an easy thing," he said.

Restaurant owners too said they were making losses after the quarantine was imposed.

One restaurant owner in Nyagatare, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that restaurant business was virtually at stand still.

He said that movement of cows should always be controlled before pandemic outbreak.

"Few people's mistakes, make millions suffer ... there should be a system of disease control. Quarantine is always a last solution that negatively affects our livelihoods and lifestyles," he said. "The people we serve want soup that is different from beans. When you have no alternative, your business is doomed. Apart from that there is a secret in making great profit when you serve meat."

The officer in charge of animal quarantine in the Eastern Province, Dr. Justin Zimurinda, stressed that illegal movements of cattle from areas already under quarantine, must stop.

"Nyagatare district is actually responding well to the quarantine...in other districts people are slaughtering cows in darkness and bushes. The quarantine must be respected," he said. According to authorities, the quarantine that started three months ago, may take long to end.

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