19 April 2014

Uganda: Govt to Inspect Milk, Beef

The government has come up with stringent regulation and inspection measures aimed at improving the quality of beef and milk sold on the market.

Bright Rwamirama, the minister of state for Animal Industry, says they have started enforcing strict basic hygiene standards to wipe out dirty beef and adulterated milk on sale. Compulsory animal health inspections before slaughter, checking hygiene conditions in abattoirs and standard tests on milk will be enforced.

"If you have to slaughter an animal, it must be inspected and its meat approved by either a vet or public health official. The same applies to milk," Rwamirama said last week.

Rwamirama said the government would construct more slaughter sheds in the cattle corridor while inspectors will ensure basic hygiene standards are met. He was speaking at Hotel Africana during a stakeholders' breakfast seminar organised to drum up support and awareness for the forthcoming African Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE), set for June 18-24 at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

In most city suburbs, meat is widely sold from makeshift, untidy stalls and consumers barely pay attention to know whether the sellers are legally cleared. Rwamirama argues that if the quality of Uganda's beef is to improve, the country must have standard abattoirs and "not these small untidy places."

For instance, Rwamirama disclosed that a recent crackdown mounted by his ministry and city authorities discovered that some abattoirs slaughtered goats, pigs and cattle in one place.

"This is offensive because we have a big Muslim community. So in urban areas, we must ensure that people only slaughter animals in abattoirs and vend meat that's inspected," the minister stated. He added that small abattoirs that don't comply with the requirements would be closed.

On milk, he insisted that sellers of unprocessed milk would face fines.

"We're doing all this for the safety of our consumers and to encourage our farmers to embrace modern technologies to sell these products after adding value," Rwamirama explained.

According to statistics from the livestock sub-sector, Uganda produced 1.8 billion litres of milk last year. The country earns $20 million from exporting milk and its products. In 2012, beef production hit 191,280 tonnes, of which 84 tonnes was exported.

Furthermore, stats from the livestock sub-sector show that the country's herd grew from eleven million heads of cattle in 2008 to 14 million in 2013.

Dr Nicholas Kauta, the director of animal resources in the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, who is also chairman of the ALiCE organizing committee, appealed to Ugandans to take advantage of the continental event to showcase the potential of the country's livestock sub-sector.

The event is expected to attract 70 companies and 300 participants with expertise in dairy, beef, poultry, goat, cattle and fish production.

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