Farmers in Sembabule have cried out to government to lift the quarantine on the movement of livestock in the central district ravaged by the foot and mouth disease.
They say the ban has not only crippled the livelihoods of most families but also the economy of the district that majorly depends on livestock agriculture. The call was made during a seminar organised to educate area LC-I officials about their roles and responsibilities.
The event was attended by several area leaders including Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa, MPs Hanifah Kawooya and Haruna Kasolo, among others.
More than 1,700 residents from 149 villages that make up Mawogola North attended. Officials from the ministry of Local Government, ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, Office of the President, ministry of Internal Affairs and ministry of Finance, among others taught people how to access government programs, especially those that are aimed at improving livelihoods.
Martin Mugisha, a resident of Rwebitakuli, said the quarantine that has been in place for more than two years must be lifted so that people can get their lives back.
“The quarantine is killing us; we cannot sell our cattle yet it’s the only economic activity that we are engaged in. Those who beat the ban and manage to smuggle the cows out of Sembabule are paid money below the market price because those buying it know they are just smuggled,” he said.
Addressing the concerns, Kutesa, who is also the area member of parliament, said the quarantine was necessary to curtail the widespread foot and mouth disease in the area but added that government needs to review the ban.
“I think government has got to review this decision because these people have got a problem of where to get income which they can only get by selling some of their cattle but the markets are closed yet children are going back to school,” he said.
He, however, cautioned the area residents to be responsible not to move cattle illegally until government gives them the green light.
“I know that you people sell the cattle at night and in the process continue spreading the disease which should have been contained by now. Cooperate with government so that a permanent solution for this problem is got. We brought in these government officials to give our people an induction course so that they are better prepared to know how they can lead their areas during their tenure of office. We have not had elections since 15 years ago; so, people don’t know what they are supposed to do in their offices. So, I thought it was a good idea to bring them all together here for an induction course,” Kutesa said.
Speaking at the same function, Kasolo, the minister of state for Microfinance, said leaders must strive to be better than those they lead.
“A poor person should never be allowed to lead people; poverty breeds vices like corruption among leaders; therefore, strive to have enough food, and other income- generating activities to be able to be better leaders,” Kasolo added.
On her part, Hanifa Kawooya, the woman MP for Sembabule, called on local council leaders to monitor the implementation of government programs.
“As government, we’ve done our part; do yours to see that these programs work as they should,” Kawooya said.