FOOT AND MOUTH OUTBREAK CAUSES BEEF SHORTAGE

No use: Band saw machines lying idle at Gantsi Beef Butchery

A ban on animal and animal products movement imposed by the government to contain foot and mouth disease has created a critical shortage of beef in the country.

A week after the announcement of foot and mouth disease outbreak in the north,there has already been an evident shortage of supplies as butcheries across the country run out of supplies.

In Francistown, a visit by The Voice team to several retail outlets and butcheries has revealed that beef supplies have been so critically low that some butcheries were forced to close down for a while.

One such affected butchery was Kopano Meat Processors that has been locked up since last week. Although a sign put up at the butchery door was indicating that it was meant to be back in business on Tuesday (09/05/2011),   it was still under lock and key on that date as beef shortages had not abated as anticipated.

In Choppies Supermarkets,refrigerators were empty, except for a few packets of sausages and beef bones on display
Choppies Supermarket manager, Rajesh said: “What you saw is the last of our stock, from last week when we got only five boxes of beef from BMC and since then we haven’t been able to get anymore. We can not get meat locally or from across borders because of foot and mouth.”
Rajesh further said that the situation was quite bad for business as many business owners had no idea when business as usual was going to resume as the disease had not been contained so far, despite ongoing government efforts to eradicate contaminated animals and restrict animal movement.

In Gaborone some of the butcheries that were grappling with shortage of meat were Gantsi Beef butchery in Gaborone West and Afro butchery, the Station Branch, where Voice reporters were shown empty cold rooms by dejected employees who feared for their jobs.

“As you can see our cold rooms are empty and the handsaw machines are off because there is no meat to cut. The stock that we have is from weeks ago but we hope the situation will improve soon so that we do not have to retrench employees,’’ said shop manager, Naomi Bontle Tsele as she took The Voice reporter on tour of their their empty shop.

A supervisor at Afro Butchery, Kedirileng Balekanye also said that they had not had fresh meat supplies since last week.
“What you are seeing here is old stock. We don’t have any fresh meat,’’ she said.

The Foot and Mouth disease control coordinator in the north(Zone 6), Kobebi Segale has however told The Voice in an interview that both retailers and members of the public can  now transport meat as long as they get a permit from the veterinary department allowing them to do so.
“This is one of the measures put in place to contain the disease,’’ he said.

In the southern part of the country the travel ban has been totally lifted and the meat shortage is expected to improve soon, a statement from the Ministry of agriculture has said.
Meanwhile, speaking at a full council meeting in Francistown recently, the Minister of Agriculture, Christian DeGraaf, recently denied allegations by some councillors that the ongoing public service strike has contributed to the outbreak of the disease.

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