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Foot and mouth disease outbreak blamed on cattle rustling

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Cases of cattle rustling and boarder security lapse have been blamed for the cases of foot and mouth disease outbreak the Lower Shire districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa suffer almost every year.

The revelation comes on the backdrop of an outbreak of the viral disease in Chikwawa that has seen close to 700 cows at Mthumba dip tank in Mitole Extension Planning Area (EPA) facing a risk of contracting the contagious disease.

The outbreak is alleged to be a result of illegally smuggled cattle from Mozambique.

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“Farmers, mostly in the Lower Shire find livestock from Mozambique cheaper and do everything possible to perforate the boarder system and bring in these animals that have a high risk of infection,” said the source privy to investigations into the outbreak.

On Friday, government released a statement acknowledging the existence of the outbreak dating back to September 4, this year.

In the statement, Secretary for Agriculture, Erica Maganga announced that government has temporarily suspended all livestock markets in the area and that investigations are underway to establish the magnitude of the spread and map the extent of the problem.

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Deputy Director of Communications and Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Spokesperson Hamilton Chimala would not respond to our questionnaire on whether indeed the disease was as a result of the illegal cross- border trade between the two countries.

But in August this year, Chikwawa Police expressed concern over rising cases of cattle rustling following the interception of 33 heads of cattle within a period of two days.

Two Malawians and two Mozambicans were arrested in connection with the theft which happened in Mozambique.

“Temporary ban is for all livestock (cattle, goats, sheep and pigs) slaughters, restriction of livestock and livestock products movement and ban of issuance of livestock permits,” reads the statement in which Maganga also urges for total compliance from livestock farmers and the general public.

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