The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: PM Urges Speedy Action On Foot and Mouth Disease

The Prime Minister, Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, has asked the Ministry of Agriculture and local leaders in Eastern province to urgently end the cow foot and mouth disease so that the cattle quarantine in the area can be lifted.

The disease, which the premier urged them to end by March, broke out three months ago.

He issued the directive on Wednesday during a meeting with local and central government leaders convened to evaluate mid term fiscal year's performance contracts.

The meeting observed that foot and mouth disease outbreak had affected the one-cow-per family programmes in Nyagatare, Gatsibo and Kayonza districts, and people's income.

"You should immediately follow uo in the case because there are people who have been negatively affected by the disease," the premier said.

The disease is said to have originated from Tanzania.

Ministry of Agriculture officials said the quarantine would be lifted within two weeks.

"The problem started in Gabiro and we got to know about it late because residents wanted to conceal it. So we started dealing with it late," said Agnes Kalibata, the Minister of Agriculture. "We are sure that it will be contained soon and the quarantine lifted."

The meeting also decided that livestock farmers who led to the disease spread should be identified and punished to avoid the action to be repeated.

According to the Minister of Internal Security, Musa Fazil Harelimana, there is no law that punishes farmers for spreading diseases in the country, but the participants insisted that there should be a way of punishing them, for instance, through fines.

The three districts under the quarantine have witnessed losses in form of revenue.

The minister explained that, in collaboration with district veterinaries and other officials, the process to isolate infected cattle from the healthy ones is being done and will be concluded within this week.

In Kayonza district, there were 26 affected cows from Murundi sector and six from Gahini. In Gatsibo, more than 600 cows were infected.

"We isolated 48 in our district," said Fred Atuhe Sabiiti, the mayor of Nyagatare district.

The Eastern Province has the highest cattle population in the country.

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