Mzimba — Government says it has committed K400 million towards the fight against foot and mouth disease outbreak in Mzimba District.
Deputy Director of Animal Health and Field Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security, Dr. Gilson Njunga, disclosed the development in the district Tuesday when he briefed stakeholders on the ban of the sale of goats, sheep and pigs and their products such as meat.
Njunga said his office intends to vaccinate 80,000 cattle against the disease soon.
"We are planning to vaccinate 80,000 cattle as a way of responding to the crisis. This will, however, depend on how soon we establish the type of the virus which causes the disease.
"This will help us to buy the appropriate vaccine," said Njunga.
The deputy director said no matter how serious the disease is, government cannot risk buying the vaccine before establishing the type of the virus which is linked to the disease.
He described the outbreak as a crisis not only in Mzimba, but the whole country as it bears a negative impact on the country's economy and people's livelihoods.
Njunga then commended butcher men in the district for complying with the ban which he said is always a challenge when similar ban is imposed elsewhere.
"Let me commend butcher men in Mzimba for taking heed of the ban which was imposed in February. We have never experienced any resistance from you," he said.
In his remarks, chairperson for Butcher men Association of Mzimba, Gilbert Nyirenda said the ban has affected their families that rely on the business for survival.
"Since the ban was imposed, life has been tough for us. We struggle to pay school fees for our children, and fail to fend for our families," said Nyirenda.
He further said butcher men who got loans to operate butcheries are more affected as they are required to pay back the same fortnightly or on monthly basis.
Nyirenda however, commended government for its efforts and commitment to deal with the outbreak and pledged continued adherence to the ban.
District Agriculture Development Officer (DADO) for Mzimba, Palichi Munyenyembe warned livestock farmers to be on the lookout for con men who claim to have cattle vaccine and embark on illegal vaccination campaign.
"People who claim that they have vaccine for Foot and Mouth disease and vaccinate animals for fee are crooks who must be reported to police," warned Munyenyembe.
Government imposed an indefinite ban on the sale of goats, sheep and pigs and their products such as meat in the districtin February, 2019.