KAMPALA – State Minister for Animal Husbandry Joy Kabatsi has warned district veterinary officers against demanding money from farmers in order to vaccinate their animals against foot and mouth disease.
Government is currently carrying out mass vaccination of cattle all over the country, especially in cattle corridor districts, after foot and mouth disease wreaked havoc in the areas.
But Dr Kabatsi said she has learnt that some district veterinary officers charge farmers between UGX2,000 and UGX5,000 in order to vaccinate their animals.
“It is improper for those veterinary officers to charge money from farmers under the guise of facilitating them to do their work. All veterinary officers are fully facilitated whenever they are going to the field. They are given vehicles, fuel and transport allowances.” Mr Kabatsi said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
“As a ministry, we condemn in the strongest terms that act of soliciting money from farmers, veterinary officers who are still doing it, should stop with immediate effect,” she added.
The minister’s concern comes after farmers in Rakai District, which borders Tanzania, under their umbrella body, Nyekundiire Farmers Association, complained over the money being asked by veterinary officers to vaccinate their animals.
Mr Robert Kanyete, the association chairperson, claimed when individual farmers refuse to pay vaccination fees, they are threatened with arrest. “Veterinary officers are conniving with some police officers to terrorize our members and as leaders, we have always asked ourselves whether those charges are legal,” he said.
Rakai is most affected by foot and mouth disease outbreaks due to the influx of livestock into the area through the porous Uganda-Tanzania border points. Foot and mouth disease is a fatal viral disease that affects animals, including cows, goats and sheep. The virus is spread through cow dung, milk, meat and air.
Farmers are able to identify that their cattle is suffering from the disease when they show signs of fever, blisters on the feet, in and around the mouth and on the mammary gland.
A suspected case of foot and mouth disease present can be identified with one or more of the following associated signs namely severe depression, drastic decline in milk production, oral and foot laceration, excessive salivation and increased mortality rate and bulls will fail to mount cows which are on heat.
Cows will have udders containing blisters and milking becomes a challenge, this affects milk production