Leaders in Bukulula Sub-county in Kalungu District have vowed to disregard the animal movement ban over a fresh outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease citing sabotage orchestrated by selfish individuals within Kalungu.
Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries on December 3 imposed a livestock quarantine in eight villages across Kalungu following an outbreak of the disease.
The quarantine also takes surrounding areas within the radius of 20km.
A section of the local leaders led by the sub-county councillors and the chairperson, Mr Charles Muyanja, claim that the 20km radius announced by the Ministry of Agriculture is unrealistic since it targets the entire sub-county at a time when the locals have to earn profits from their respective livestock.
"We are totally opposed to the large area that has been quarantined yet we have evidence that the outbreak was on three farms in Kiti Parish and not the entire sub-county. We believe that the 20km radius was not done in good faith because we need to consider our farmers in areas that are not affected by the disease. These farmers should not suffer at the expense of some few individuals with selfish intentions," Mr Muyanja told a council meeting on Monday.
Kalungu has seven sub-counties and more than 70 per cent of the residents depend on animal products for a living.
"We call upon government to reconsider the decision and at least direct the quarantine to strictly the affected parishes where veterinary teams have been deployed to minimise the spread of the disease," Mr Muyanja said.
The sub-county councillors led by the council speaker, Ms Nusulah Nabaggala Kiyemba, claim targeting the entire Bukulula Sub-county for the quarantine could paralyse incomes of more than 80 per cent of the residents.
"We appeal to government to reconsider the decision. We even had some of our children who missed the end of term exams because of the quarantine. The parents could not get the money to pay school fees," Ms Nabaggala said.
The quarantine stretches up to Lukaya Town Council.
Dr Henry Ssimbwa, the Kalungu District veterinary officer, however, dismissed the sabotage allegations.
He said the quarantine was imposed by government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) after a careful and thorough investigation by technical people.
"It is true that there is a cattle quarantine imposed on Bukulula Sub-county covering a radius of 20kms as part of the measures to contain the recent outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease in Kalungu District. The outbreak was detected at three farms in Kiti Parish and we are on ground to ensure that the disease is contained. We could not quarantine the entire Kalungu District that could mean paralysing the entire incomes of the residents who are not affected by the disease. It also true that Lukaya Town Council has no Foot and Mouth Disease that possibly explains why we skipped the town," Dr Ssimbwa said.
He added: "More than 80 per cent of the cattle and animal products go through Lukaya Town Council and any attempt to impose a quarantine yet there is no trace of the FMD would paralyze business in Kalungu District."
Mr Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and MP for Kalungu East, has appealed to the concerned technical persons to consider the complaints raised by the local leaders with a view of ensuring that the right information is availed and possibly the area under the cattle quarantine is restricted to only areas that are affected by the disease.
"Our people have a right to be heard and I too believe that the quarantine should only target areas that are affected by the disease. We should allow our people to enjoy the festive season if it is true that their respective areas are free from the Foot and Mouth Disease," Minister Ssempijja said.