UGANDA – In Uganda’s meat processing industry, Ranchers Finest Ltd stands as a beacon of safety and quality amidst the challenges posed by the ongoing Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in various districts.

Despite the quarantine measures affecting several areas and the consequent restrictions on animal product consumption, Ranchers Finest is setting a high standard for food safety and hygiene in its operations.

FMD was initially detected in one of the cattle corridor districts in November 2023, as reported by a source within the country’s agriculture ministry.

By the end of February, the disease had spread to numerous districts including Apac, Amolatar, Bugiri, Bushenyi, Butaleja, Hoima, Iganga, Jinja, Kabale, Kaberamaido, Kaliro, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Katakwi, Kasese, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kyenjojo, Mbale, Masindi, Mayuge, Mukono, Namalemba, Nakapiripirit, Palisa, Rukungiri, Sironko, Wakiso, and Soroti, according to the same ministry source.

Recognizing the severity of the outbreak, the Cabinet approved the allocation of sh10bn (U.S$257.1 thousand) towards acquiring FMD vaccines for the high-risk districts.

Led by Chief Executive Officer Collin Muyanja, Ranchers Finest has made substantial investments, totaling over US$4 million, in its Bwaise-based plant.

This investment has not only enabled the company to maintain its production capacity but also allowed it to implement rigorous sanitation protocols and utilize state-of-the-art equipment, ensuring that every step of the production process meets the highest standards of safety and quality.

The FMD outbreak has presented challenges, with limited meat supply affecting Ranchers Finest’s daily processing capacity, currently at 5 to 10 tonnes per day despite having the capability to process 20 tonnes daily.

Muyanja emphasized the importance of proper traceability, processing, and inspection in ensuring the safety of meat products, reassuring consumers that Ranchers Finest adheres to these critical measures.

Beyond its commitment to product safety, Ranchers Finest is also focused on creating positive social impact, reports Business Focus.

Muyanja highlighted the company’s kiosk franchise and distribution expansion project, expected to generate employment opportunities for over 3,000 youth and women in the value chain, including distribution teams and roadside grillers.

Currently employing 170 Ugandans, the company’s export reach extends to Kinshasa, South Sudan, and Tanzania, showcasing its dedication to both local and international markets.

Call for  Support

Despite its successes, Ranchers Finest faces challenges in sourcing adequate supplies to meet market demands.

Muyanja urged the government to strategize on assisting farmers in achieving the right nutrition for their livestock, ultimately enhancing meat quality and quantity.

Additionally, he appealed for government-to-government negotiations to lower export market taxes, thereby making Ugandan meat products more competitive and accessible in foreign markets.

Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot and Mouth Disease is a viral infection affecting livestock, including cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed ruminants.

It is classified as a transboundary animal disease (TAD), causing substantial economic losses and disrupting regional and international trade in animals and their products. The disease is prevalent in approximately 77% of the global livestock population, with notable impacts in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and a limited area of South America.

Symptoms of FMD include fever and blister-like sores in the mouth, on the tongue, lips, teats, and between the hooves. The disease results in severe production setbacks, although most affected animals recover, they often experience weakened health and debilitation post-infection.

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