Following reports on the recent outbreak of the Contagious Bovine Pleuro Pneumonia (CBPP), a highly infectious and deadly disease affecting the cattle population in various part of The Gambia with a high mortality rate, concern is being raised as to the supply and safety of meat in the markets. This is what prompted this reporter to visit the Abuko Abattoir and cattle selling grounds to talk to the cattle dealers and butchers on the issue.
Ousman Jallow, a cattle dealer from Kiang Keneba, said the outbreak of the CBPP illness among the cattle is very serious but that so far this year their animals are spared unlike last year. He said last year their cattle suffered from an illness different from CBPP which was treated through the intervention of ITC. He said it is mostly the cattle owners in the Central and Upper River regions who bear the brunt of the epidemic.
According to Ousman, he normally buys few cattle from these areas if cannot get enough from his native Kiang. He said before the outbreak a few weeks ago he has been buying up to twenty cattle heads, but now it has reduced to less than a dozen. He admitted that the incident has really affecting his business with low supply of animals. He concluded by calling on the authorities in the Agriculture sector to help them stem the tide of the outbreak with the vaccinations in the entire country but most especially in the URR and CRR regions.
Mr. Omar Khan, another cattle dealer from Jarra Soma found at the Abuko Abattoir, when quizzed, said he is aware of the CBPP outbreak. He said the situation is really desperate and that urgent intervention is needed before the illness finishes the cattle population in the country.
He said so far he has lost fifteen cattle to the illness and that he is yet to receive any vaccination from the Ministry of Agriculture or other stakeholders for his remaining herd. He concluded by urging the government to speedily respond to this frightening situation.
Omar Sey, a wholesale buyer of cattle from the hinterland, said he is not being affected directly because when he is purchasing cattle from the vendors, they always give him the healthiest ones and that if he suspects that any of the cattle is infected or it is not that much fit, he would then ask for a replacement. He said the situation is grave and that those who are suffering most are the cattle owners.
He also said many of his fellow businessmen are experiencing difficulties in getting the usual supply of cattle as they use to before the recent outbreak of the illness. He said because of the shortage in the supply, the price of cattle is getting more expensive and some owners are not even willing to sell their animals for fear of finding themselves left with only the unhealthy ones, adding that the dealers only buy and bring to Abuko the healthy cattle.
Omar also appealed to the government to help them to arrest the situation as quickly as possible or else it will destroy their lives.
Colley Mballow, a butcher at the Abuko Abattoir, said even though the people are aware of the illness, his business is still going as usual because he ensures that the meat he sells meat is healthy.
He said one of his colleagues has even hinted to him that the cattle owners are planning to increase the price of their cattle, but so far there is no increased at the Abattoir. He prayed for the problem to be addressed soonest.