BULAWAYO, July 15 (The Source) – Agriculture deputy minister Paddy Zhanda on Wednesday said government has stopped issuing out new licenses for abattoirs in a bid to contain the spread of foot and mouth disease which has hit the southern parts of the country.
The development comes amid fears that the disease, which officials say has killed hundreds of cattle in Midlands and Matabeleland region over the past two years, could spread to other provinces and paralyse the local beef market.
Zimbabwe has experienced regular outbreaks of the disease in recent times in cattle rich regions of Matabeleland and Midlands, which have adversely affected the industry as the country is an exporter of meat.
In April this year, the outbreaks were discovered in Zvishavane, Gweru, Mvuma and Matabeleland. The same areas experienced an outbreak around the same time last year.
Speaking at a Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) second annual general meeting in Bulawayo, Zhanda said the disease was spreading through illegal transportation of cattle.
“We are not going to issue any new licenses for abattoirs because there is no need. We have heard that some of them are responsible for spreading foot and mouth disease through illegal transportation of cattle from one area to another. We are not going to have stakeholders that are not responsible,” said Zhanda, adding that they will close abattoirs violating the law.
He said private abattoirs were ignoring restrictions regarding movement of cattle from areas where there was a foot-and-mouth outbreak.
In April this year, the Veterinary Services Department ordered Mbokodo Abattoir along Plumtree Road to suspend operations after foot-and-mouth was detected in the area.
Zimbabwe suspended beef exports to the European Union and other countries in 2001 when the Cold Storage Company, at one time the largest meat processor in Africa, collapsed due to persistent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease.