Masindi Rufura Cooperative Savings and Credit Society Ltd (MARUSCO) has appealed for government support in getting a standard abattoir.
Shaban Balikagira, the cooperative’s Secretary, says that the current abattoir is too small to accommodate the available cattle.
“The one we have can’t even accommodate 20 head of cattle. We are forced to slaughter in shifts which is inconvenient,” Balikagira explained.
Balikagira appealed for government assistance in setting up a bigger abattoir that meets international standards, complete with a standard slaughtering slab, a holding pen for livestock meant for slaughter (lairage), clean toilet facilities, a stable water supply and an access road.
Henry Kwezi, the Chairperson of MARUSCO, justified the cooperative’s appeal for government support by stressing that the abattoir in question is a district abattoir that feeds many.
Besides, Balikagira believes that the demand for meat in Masindi will soon go up, especially as the oil sector grows.
“People working in the oil companies want meat that meets the highest standards from an organized abattoir, but we are not prepared for this at all. How shall we tap this market if we are not helped?”he asked.
According to Kwezi, MARUSCO has 200 members and operates 25 butcheries around Masindi district, as well as a Shs 20m account that offers loans both to members and non-members.
“We started as a small group in order to transform the butchers’ social and economic livelihood,” he said.
However, the Kwezi explains that the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted their activities as a cooperative, and savings had gone down as a result.
“Before lockdown came in, we were slaughtering between 15-20 cows per day, compared to eight per day now. Our savings reduced significantly since our members have not working,” Balikigira explained.
Lift FMD quarantine
Members of MARUSCO have also called for a lifting of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) quarantine imposed on parts of Masindi four years back
In 2017, government placed the two sub counties of Kimengo and Bwijanga in Masindi district, where most of the cattle keepers live and rear their cattle, under quarantine.
“We find it hard to get animals for slaughtering and when we get them, the prices are too high due to the quarantine which was put in place four years back to fight FMD,” Baligira said.