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COVID-19: Milk trade can continue, Mbarara RDC assures farmers

Dairy farmers and traders in Mbarara district are free to transport their milk to the market normally, per the presidential directive, Mbarara Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Lt Col. James Mwesigye has assured.

The RDC made the remarks in an interview with theCooperator, in which he reiterated President Yoweri Museveni’s directive that the recent restrictions on both public and private passenger transport did not apply to transportation of food stuffs and other cargo. 

“Milk trucks were never prohibited from moving,” he stressed, adding that farmers can even opt to transport their goods to market using motorcycles.

Addressing the issue of plummeting milk prices in the region, Mwesigye called upon farmers and dairy cooperatives to bear with the situation for the moment until the COVID-19 crisis abates.

Over the past couple of months, milk prices in the region had been sliding down, a situation that seems to have escalated in the wake of the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

“Farmers and cooperatives should adapt to the current situation as it is. If the price of milk falls, then they should be patient, knowing that we are in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.

He advised farmers, cooperatives and traders to stay calm as the situation normalizes.

“I am sure that if we adhere to the president’s guidelines, this disease will soon be defeated and everything will return to what it was before,” says Mwesigye.

The RDC also dispelled rumours that Pearl Dairies had closed down its Mbarara factory. The news had raised tension among livestock farmers, many of whom have come to rely on it to buy their products.

Ghost town

Meanwhile, the streets of Mbarara town and its outskirts have remained largely deserted as all non-food retail businesses were closed down in response to the presidential directive regarding the same.

Non-food shops in Mbarara locked following the presidential directive. JOSHUA NAHAMYA

In a tour of the town’s central business district this Thursday, theCooperator established that all wholesale, retail shops, electronic shops, arcades, salons, motor spare shops, lodges and bars were closed.

Lt Col. James Mwesigye, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mbarara, confirmed the closure of all businesses except produce stores and those dealing in commercial groceries.

“We have only left open the supermarkets, produce food stores selling matooke, beans, posho and so on. The rest have to close,” said Mwesigye.

He warned retailers who have continued to sell other products under the guise of selling food that they would be shut down if discovered. 

“Some people have resorted to stocking two or three sacks of posho to give the impression that they are selling food, only to continue selling other items like soap and alcohol. Our enforcement teams are on the watch, and we shall deal with these culprits once caught.”

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