Six months after the Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division (ADD) issued a warning on African swine fever and asked pork consumers to desist from selling or consuming uncertified pig meat, some vendors in the city continue selling uninspected meat.
The situation has been compounded by the closing down of the only certified pig market and slaughter house at Luwinga Township about two years ago due to water problems.
Random interviews conducted by Malawi News Agency (Mana) have revealed that some vendors do slaughter the pigs in their residential areas where no inspection is carried out.
“As for us, we just buy the pigs from farmers and slaughter them ourselves,” said a pig meat vendor at Luwinga Market who only identified himself as Uncle Paul.
Another customer by the name Mangaliso Thindwa, who was found lining up to purchase pork at Chibavi Township Market in the city, said he did not know if the meat he was about to buy was safe or not.
“I just buy the meat at the butchery. I am not present when these pigs are slaughtered and do not know whether the meat is inspected or not. Of course I fear for my health and my family’s but what else can I do?” wondered Thindwa.
This, however, is in contrast to what Mzuzu ADD’s Livestock Development Officer Jacob Mwasinga told Mana in a recent interview. He said inspection officers from his office conduct daily meat and pork inspection exercise right in the locations across the city.
Mwasinga was responding to Mana on Mzuzu ADD’s directive to shut down the city’s sole pig slaughter ground following the proprietors’ (Mzuzu Livestock Cooperative’s) failure to pay water bills it owed Northern Region Water Board.
“We facilitated closure of the pig market and slaughter place because there is no way we would have allowed the slaughter house to operate without a water source,” he said without mentioning the total amount of the water bill the live stock cooperative owed Northern Region Water Board.
“Nonetheless, pig meat inspection is still being conducted as our officers have contacts with the (pig) farmers and conduct meat inspection right in their locations,” he said.
Mwasinga refused to comment any further, particularly when asked how his office regulates slaughtering of pigs at a time when any vendor can slaughter their pigs at their convenient grounds.
He, however, conceded that the pig market’s closure has left the lives of pork consumers at the knife’s edge since the absence of its operations leaves the whole Northern Region with no formal trading point for pig meat.
In April this year, Mzuzu ADD announced that over 200 pigs had died of African swine fever in Ekwendeni (north of the city) alone and appealed to residents to refrain from purchasing pork from undesignated places.
The Luwinga Pig Market situated at Luwinga Industrial site was constructed in 2010 through a Department For International Development (DFID)-funded research project. The market facility has been lying idle for over two years now.
Several attempts to speak to any member of the Mzuzu Livestock Cooperative were unsuccessful as their offices at the site are not operational.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :