Foot-and-mouth disease to affect meat supply in Malawi

A ban on cattle movement from Malawi’s southern Lower Shire Valley, affected by foot-and-mouth disease, is going to reduce meet supply in Malawi by almost 20 percent and also threatens employment for hundreds working in smaller butcheries and meat outlets in the cities as well as cattle ranches.

Ban of cattle movement and slaughter from Lower Shire districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje, which supply most of the beef and dairy requirements in Malawi

Director in the Department of Livestock and Animal Health in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Dr Patrick Chikungwa, told journalists in Lilongwe that the disease has been reported in cattle at Mthumba and Tomali tanks in Chikwawa district within the Shire Valley.

Lower Shire districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje  supply most of the beef and dairy requirements in Malawi

“Ongoing preliminary investigations conducted on 30 August, 2017 by veterinary field staff from the Shire Valley Agriculture Development Division and Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development indicated total number of 26 cases in eight kraals as being affected, with an estimated total of over 10,000 cattle at immediate risk,” Chikungwa explained.

He added: “In conformity with the Control and Animal Diseases Act (Cap 66:02), and the World Animal Health Organisation guidelines, the Ministry would, therefore, like to inform the general public that it has with immediate effect instituted temporary suspension of all livestock markets within the affected areas.”

Chikungwa further disclosed that the ministry has also instituted a temporary ban of all livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep and pig slaughters in the affected areas.

Furthermore, there is also a restriction on the movement of livestock and livestock products from and into the affected areas, along with a ban on issuance of livestock movement permits from the affected areas.

Foot and Mouth disease is common in the lower Shire valley, especially during the hot season, according to Chikungwa.

According to authorities, the ban of cattle movement in the Lower Shire might take two to six months depending on how fast veterinary authorities contain the foot-and-mouth disease.

Though there is no known human form of the disease, the foot-and-mouth could be debilitating not only to the beef and diary industry, but also to crops.

All animals affected by the disease cannot produce milk while work oxen cannot perform because of sore joints and feet, according to veterinary sources.

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