Cattle from Foot and Mouth-affected Chikwawa reportedly being smuggled into Blantyre through uncharted routes

* Prices of beef in supermarkets have skyrocketed against the government’s regulated prices of meat products

* This follows ban on livestock movement from Shire Valley ADD due to the disease’s outbreak

* In South Africa, only veterinary permit holders can have their cattle for direct slaughter at registered abattoirs

By Duncan Mlanjira

Concerned meat products retailers in Blantyre indicate that they have received reports that most traders of beef in the local markets is from cattle that is being smuggled into the City through uncharted routes from Chikwawa following ban on livestock movement due to Foot and Mouth disease outbreak.


Patrick Kalimbuka, a retailer trading under Prime Butchery, said this was an Intel that the small scale butchery businesses have received from their sources on the ground after they inquired as to where local markets are sourcing their meat products.

“This is scary in that such cattle moved through uncharted routes might be affected with the disease and gets it spread in the city,” he said, while suggesting that the Ministry of Agriculture must provide a leeway that the meat suppliers in Chikwawa — whose abattoirs are registered — should slaughter the vaccinated and certified-fit cattle at source and transport the product.

He indicated, and we verified, that in South Africa, which has also been affected by the disease outbreak, has put some exceptions to cattle movement.


According to a statement on South Africa government website on August 16, 2022, the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Thoko Didiza announced the suspension of all movement of cattle as preventive measures.

She, however, acknowledged that the ban would affect businesses, especially small scale and she put up some exceptions that only veterinary permit holders can have their cattle for direct slaughter at registered abattoirs and also slaughter for ritual purposes.

The ban was declared in that country’s Government Gazette and she warned that any disregard for the movement ban was a criminal offense.

Meanwhile, prices of beef in supermarkets have skyrocketed against the government’s regulated prices of meat products.

In one supermarket we visited, the price of beef shin per kilogramme was at K6,228; for blade at K6,115; lean steak mince at K7,715; economy mince at K5,715; rump-steak at K8,345 and neck at K5,658.

In Food Lovers Market, they put up a notice on the entrance indicating they had adjusted their prices due to what they described as “a nationwide shortage of beef [and] therefore the prices throughout have gone up”.

The notice further said: “We understand the price change is high, but this cannot be helped due to the current situation.”

The ban on the livestock movement has greatly affected small scale butchery businesses, whose main suppliers are based in the Foot and Mouth disease affected Shire Valley ADD.

In an earlier interview, Kalimbuka said most of the small scale retailers main product is beef supply to small scale businesses like restaurant owners.

He indicated that they have had no sales for whole of the ban but yet they still have to pay salaries to employees, rent, overheads and service loans.

This time around, he indicated that the small scale restaurant businesses might resort to buying from other sources, who might have been supplied by cattle smugglers from Chikwawa.

Very deadly disease that can be passed on to humans

When contacted on Thursday morning on what the Ministry of Agriculture is doing to curb such illegal movement and what are the legal penalties if caught, the Ministry officials were yet to respond but acknowledged receipt of the questionnaire sent.

The Ministry was asked that if prices of meat products are regulated, is it aware of the price increases and did it sanction the adjustment?

We are yet to be answered if the Ministry can consider the suggestion to slaughter cattle at source and also when the animal movement ban is expected to be lifted.

But on Tuesday, August 16, the Ministry indicated that over 25,000 cattle out of about 39,000 affected animals had been vaccinated as of that day — representing 65% vaccination rate.

The Ministry further assured the public that animal health experts are still on the ground with the exercise as well as to identify if more areas were affected.

A statement from the Secretary for Agriculture, Sandram Maweru issued on August 1 said the disease was first clinically reported at Jombo, Chaonanjiwa and Mnthumba dip tanks and preliminary investigation conducted by veterinary officials had then reported 49 clinical cases out of the affected 13 kraals.

In conformity with the Control and Animal Diseases Act (Cap 66:02), and the World Organization for Animal Health guidelines, Maweru assured the public that the Ministry had with immediate effect preventive measures that included:

* Temporary suspension of all livestock (cattle, goats, sheep and pigs) markets;

* Temporary ban of all livestock (cattle, goats, sheep and pigs) slaughters;

* Restriction of livestock and livestock products movement;

*Temporary ban on issuance of livestock permits;

* Vaccination of cattle at the high risk areas surrounding the infected foci; and

* Sensitisation of the communities on the disease.


The Ministry is also conducting active surveillance in cattle, goats, sheep and pigs in and around the affected areas to ensure early detection and response for timely containment of the disease.

“The Ministry is, therefore, urging the livestock farmers and the general public to cooperate with its officials and security agents during the implementation of these measures.

For more information and clarification, the public is encouraged to contact Dr.Patrick Chikungwa, Director of Animal Health and Livestock Development at 0888371509 or Dr. Gilson Njunga, Deputy Director for Animal Health (Field Services ) at 0995910460.