The 42-day suspension of livestock markets announced by President Museveni on June 6 to slow the march of Covid-19 has been greeted with anger and sadness by farmers and dealers locked out of business in Lango sub-region.
As of June 12, Uganda had 63,099 cumulative Covid-19 cases and 434 deaths, according to official statistics from the Ministry of health.
In an attempt to slow the march of Covid-19 across the country, President Museveni in a televised address to the nation on June 6 suspended a range of activities, plunging the country into a second partial lockdown.
“To contain the escalating Covid-19 cases, all weekly and monthly livestock markets are suspended for 42 days, inter-district movement is equally suspended for the next 42 days,” the president said, promising heavy fines for offenders.
However, some livestock farmers and dealers in Lango told theCooperator that the new suspension has hit them hard. The lockdown of cattle markets, they said, has triggered a hike in meat prices. A kilogram of beef is now sold at Shs16,000 at Aduku Daily Market in Kwania.
Moses Olenga, a livestock dealer in Apac District, said the suspension of livestock markets has already affected their livelihoods.
“We depend on livestock business to put food on the table, the government should give us a green light to transact business while complying with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs),” he said.
Lawrence Ebong, a livestock farmer in Kwania district, said police and veterinary officers are using the Covid-19 restrictions to extort money from farmers.
“Some people are illegally taking their animals to the nearby markets, security intercepts them and extorts money or arrests them claiming they are violating the Covid-19 rules, this is unfair,” he said.
However, Salim Komakech, the Resident District Commissioner of Kwania, dismissed the claims as baseless.
“Some livestock farmers are arrogant, they don’t want to follow directives, that will not work,” he said.
Nelson Okello, a livestock farmer in Kole District, said he might not be able to pay his children’s school fees because he has no steady flow of income.
“This is the period when we make some money to send our children to school,” he said, adding that livestock business is the primary form of savings, income and non-monetary wealth for thousands of families in the cattle corridor districts.
Normally, livestock sales account for about 90% of annual household incomes in the cattle-corridor districts.
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