The Ministry of Agriculture has banned livestock movement from Nyagatare District following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the area.
The New Times has learnt that the disease was first detected on Tuesday in some cows in Gabiro area.
The disease outbreak, and the restriction imposed, mean that Nyagatare farmers cease sale of about 60,000 litres of milk that they supply to Inyange Industries Ltd, a local milk processing factory, according to Pitas Mugisha, the vice chairperson of Nyagatare Dairy Farmers Union.
With a litre of milk sold at Rwf176 to the processor, the farmers will lose about Rwf10.5 million per day.
Mugisha said the quarantine also affects operation of a cattle market where about 500 cattle are sold per week in the district.
"As we approach the dry season, there are dairy farmers who wanted to get money from milk and cow sales to pay for their children's school fees, but now it is not possible," Mugisha told The New Times.
But he noted that the one-month quarantine was necessary to prevent the disease from spreading.
A statement, signed by the Agriculture and Animal Resources minister, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, yesterday, said the movement of livestock (cows, goats, sheep and pigs) as well as bovine markets in the sectors of Karangazi and Rwimiyaga in Nyagatare District; Kabonero and Rwembogo in Gatsibo District; Murundi, Gahini and Mwiri in Kayonza District, are temporarily banned.
It said cattle showing symptoms of the disease will be isolated.
The statement also warned of punitive measures for those who fail to comply with the quarantine, and cautioned livestock farmers against hiding affected cows.
"We have set up seven strategic sites, with three veterinary officers each, around the Gabiro centre so as to prevent the entry and exit of cows to prevent the disease spread," Mugisha said.
He said water with disinfectants has been availed at entries of Gabiro so that people who enter or leave can wash their hands to disinfect.
The law determining the prevention and fight against contagious diseases for domestic animals in Rwanda, which was enacted in 2008, states in Article 46 that necessary measures should be taken for an immunisation to be carried out nationwide, buildings and tools to be sprayed with appropriate disinfectants, and special care ensured for transportation of any possible carrier of the virus, especially alive animals, manure, cowshed grass bedding, forage, livestock products.
Such measures also explain how such areas have to be cleaned and how these areas and any other object used in transporting them shall be sprayed with insecticide.
Article 49 of the same law states that the decision to lift measures relating to the declaration of presence of the foot and mouth disease is made after 21 days from the time the last infected animal has been liquidated.
Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources show that there is a cattle population of about 1.4 million in the country.
Information from Eastern Province shows that it has around 424,279 head of cattle.