Livestock farmers and traders in Nyagatare and Gatsibo districts are counting losses as foot and mouth disease that infected livestock in area some three months ago continues.
The disease attacks the feet of livestock, paralysing their limbs. Musheri and Rwimiyaga (Nyagatare), Rwembogo, Kabarore (Gatsibo) sectors are the most affected areas.
Proprietors of butcheries, dairies and livestock markets have been forced to close shop to meet a quarantine slapped by the Ministry of Agriculture to contain the disease.
"We used to collect 1,000 litres of milk daily from Musheri, but we no longer get even half of that," Hamad Rukwaya, the Inyange Savanah Dairy leader, grouping 13 cooperatives in Nyagatare town, said.
Gatsibo district veterinary officer Ernest Nsigayehe said they are doing their best to contain the disease.
"Our union of 1,800 members used to collect between 35,000 litres to 42,000 litres of milk daily, but we now collect only 40,000 litres per day. Beef is also scarce since butcheries have closed," Charles Mushayija of the Nyagatare Farmers Union said.
"I used to earn Rwf5,000 from one cow per day. I have four farm labourers, but I had to lay them off," Ladislas Rudahunga, who runs Ubumwe Butchery, said.
Isaie Habumuremyi, the Gatsibo vice mayor in-charge of economic affairs, said the disease has left bitter tastes in the mouths of farmers and businesspersons in the district.
Habumuremyi said the district has two cattle markets per month where each cow entering the market earns the district Rwf2,000 in tax. This means Gatsibo has lost Rwf1.6m in monthly revenue.
Meanwhile, the Rwanda Agriculture Board (Rab) said the ban on cattle movement still holds.
Celestin Nyambi, the Rab director-general for Eastern Province, said the ban will only be lifted after all precautions to control the disease are complete, adding that efforts are underway to screen and isolate infected cows in the districts.
Additional reporting By Stephen Rwembeho