The battle against Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) has taken a significant stride as the government approves a comprehensive strategy put forth by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF).
This crucial decision was reached during a Cabinet meeting at State House Entebbe, with the strategy addressing short, medium, and long-term objectives in combatting FMD.
Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze, revealed key components of the endorsed strategy with immediate actions including acquiring 10 million doses of the FMD vaccine, intending to expand ring vaccination in both affected and high-risk neighboring districts.
Furthermore, the government plans to establish a revolving fund for regular FMD vaccine procurement, supporting mandatory bi-annual vaccination for the susceptible domestic animal population. A noteworthy policy proposition requires farmers to contribute financially to the FMD vaccine cost, while the government covers administration, transportation, and storage expenses.
Once the revolving fund is operational and an ample vaccine supply is secured, the Cabinet has decided to enforce mandatory vaccination for all susceptible domestic animals. This measure will be reinforced by obligating farmers to furnish proof of vaccination before selling any animal or animal products.
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Minister Tumwebaze appealed to livestock farmers and stakeholders, urging them to comprehend and acknowledge the government’s endeavors in the collective mission to eradicate FMD in Uganda. He drew parallels with past successes in eradicating other animal diseases, such as rinderpest, in the nation’s history.
The urgency to address FMD was emphasized by recent cases reported in various districts, including Budaka, Bukedea, Bukomansimbi, Butaleja, Fort Portal City, Gomba, and Isingiro.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, directed MAAIF to explain the progress made in containing the disease, recognizing the immediate intervention needed for affected farmers, whose livelihoods depend on these animals.
Concerns have been raised about the quarantine enforced by the Ministry, impacting movement in 32 districts where FMD has been detected. The quarantine restricts the movement of livestock and livestock products into and out of these districts, underscoring the severity of the situation.
Uganda has approximately 40 million livestock and has been confronted by the challenge of FMD, a viral disease causing fever and blister-like sores on cloven-hoofed livestock causing substantial production losses.