WHERE IS IT? MAAIF bosses on spot over Shs25Bn Foot & Mouth Disease cash

The Speaker of Parliament of Uganda Anita Among has tasked the Ministry of Agriculture to detail how Shs25Bn allocated for the production of Foot and Mouth Disease was used amidst a recent outbreak of the deadly virus amongst the cattle population in Uganda.

It should be recalled that in November 2021, Parliament approved a supplementary request by the Ministry of Agriculture seeking for Shs95.216Bn. Out of this money, Shs70Bn was meant for the procurement of 200 assorted tractors, implements and accessory units and Shs25Bn was meant to finance shortfalls on vaccines for control of Foot and Mouth Disease.

“If you can recall, for the last three years, the government has been reporting on fast tracking a vaccine for foot and mouth disease and despite the allocation that we gave, there was a financial allocation that was given in 2021 and the House approved Shs25Bn to finance the expenditure of this vaccine. To date we don’t know at what level those vaccines are, we don’t know whether the vaccines are working and this was aimed at getting 4 million doses, I don’t know whether we even have a single dose,” said Among.

The Speaker’s response was in response to a statement by Bright Rwamirama, State Minister for Agriculture who was responding to concerns raised by a section of legislators on the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease that is ravaging the nation and has led to death of cattle, with Speaker admitting to have lost 50heads of cattle at her farm in Bukedea district.

Minister Rwamira while responding to the expenditure said: “The Shs25Bn did a very good job, one of them was to facilitate veterinary professionals to do the vaccine, and we also put in place the diagnostic centres.”

In his statement, the Minister revealed that from January to October, 2022, 22 districts reported FMD outbreaks and these include; Adjumani, Amuru, Bukedea, Ibanda, Jinja, Kalungu, Kapchorwa, Kayunga, Kiruhura, Kween, Kyolero, Lyantonde, Masindi, Mpigi, Nakapiripirit, Nakasongola, Napak, Ntungamo, Sembabule and Tororo.

He also revealed plans by the Ministry of Agriculture to vaccinate the susceptible livestock in the affected 22 districts with the 930,200 doses of FMD vaccine expected in the Country while awaiting another consignment of 1,635,700 doses to be delivered.

However, a section of lawmakers like Medard Sseggona (Busiro East) raised loopholes in the strategy laid out by the Ministry to combat FMD, and asked the Government to empower the local production of the vaccines.

Sseggona wondered why some of the richest men and women in Uganda who have over 10,000 heads of cattle are also waiting for free things from the government.

“When shall we learn to develop our own? We have the capacity but we don’t invest in those people who are able to develop such. When shall we realize that we have a crisis in the farming industry? I have interacted with some farmers, quite a significant number of farmers are willing to pay for their own vaccines. All they need is the government to regulate, especially on the quality,” said Sseggona.

He also criticised government for the discriminatory quarantines slapped on different areas, arguing that some officials are profiting from these quarantines, by blocking farmers from selling their cattle, while turning around to buy the cattle and later sell them at higher prices.

“A lot has been said about our government officials that they trade in crises of FMD. They block other people from selling and go, buy those cows and sell them at a higher price. There is no explanation you can give that farmers in a certain area won’t sell their cattle for a whole year, you are promoting this idea of beating the system,” he said.

Abraham Ismat (Kapir County) called on the Government to emulate Kenya that has set up a company that manufactures FMD vaccines, saying it is the only sustainable method to deal with the crisis of porous borders that make it hard to control the movement of cattle into the country.

He remarked: “Year in and year out, the issue of FMD has persisted, we don’t have competent stuff to deal with it but the truth of the matter is that all those approaches suggested by the Minister in the report do work. The major challenge we have is that we have porous borders. Look at areas like Karamoja and Katakwi that have FMD prevalence, there is no effective control of animal movements.” (DO YOU HAVE A HOT STORY (CHEATERS, DIVORCE, VIDEOS, CORRUPTION, LAND WRANGLES, EXPOSES …ETAL) YOU WOULD LIKE US TO PUBLISH? CALL/TEXT/WHATSAPP 0777959024 OR EMAILredpeppertips@gmail.com)

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