Freedom Mutanda Post Correspondent
BUTCHERS in the Lowveld are going through a lean period as they have run out of beef to sell following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the area.
The entire Lowveld has since been declared a red zone, thereby restricting movement of cattle in the area. A butchery owner at Chipangayi Rural Service Centre wasn’t amused at the disease outbreak, but felt that measures must be put in place by Government as the foot and mouth disease is highly contagious and a public health menace.
“Inasmuch as I can complain about lack of business as a result of the outbreak, I must hasten to add that public health takes precedence. I can confirm that beef is in short supply in this area. Vet officers are not issuing permits to us and that has a knock-down effect on our operations.
“This is a farming area where workers regularly buy meat for their protein requirements. As it is, I am grounded in all areas related to the payment of goods or services. My children can’t get school fees,’’ lmented Mr Partson Mtetwa. His predicament was also shared by another butcher, Mr Phillip Mahweta, who owns one at Section Six in Middle Sabi.
His braai area is now uncharacteristically deserted as regular customers now enjoy beer without the inevitable fire roasted beef. A thriving black market for game meat has since sprouted. A nutritionist, Mr Frank Mashapa, said people need protein from meat, but it is important for them to find alternative foods such as beans which are readily available in Middle Sabi.
“It is a stroke of luck that sugar beans did very well in the area owing to the presence of Madzadza Irrigation Scheme. With that in mind, people have to use the alternative while hoping that a long-lasting solution will come on board,’’ he said. Mr Martin Munodawafa, the immediate past chairperson of the Middle Sabi Farmers’ Syndicate, feels that there must be concerted efforts among farmers, Government and the Save Conservancy owners to find a lasting solution.
“It is true that there could have been misunderstandings in the past, but that should not derail efforts to find a win-win solution. “Dialogue should win in the end. For starters, buffaloes must remain in the conservancy. However, we must continue to dialogue with farmers across the Save River,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Veterinary Services Department continues to monitor the situation on the ground as it battles to control the outbreak. Those who are into chicken rearing are enjoying brisk business as consumers are flocking to them to buy white meat.