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Farmers turn to baking powder to fight foot and mouth disease

Rift Valley
 Farmers decry that since the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease last month, they have faced difficult times. [File, Standard]

Livestock farmers in Endebess and Kwanza, Trans Nzoia County have resorted to using baking powder, Magadi and table salt to control Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) citing a poor response from the Government.

The farmers decry that since the outbreak last month, they have faced difficult times as they strive to control the disease in vain while the Government remains mum on the matter.

A dairy farmer from Kapsitwet sub-location in Kwanza John Kiptanui Komen revealed that farmers in the area were counting heavy losses since there were no considerable efforts on the part of the Government to contain the situation. Komen said FMD struck about a month ago from Lyavo and Kapsitwet areas and that samples were taken by a veterinary officer who sent them to Nairobi for evaluation.

He, however, noted that the Government was sceptical, giving out results that indicated the samples were positive for type II disease, which is different from what the farmers had suspected. The results which were sent to the county government compelled the imposition of quarantine in the two sub-counties, preventing the movement of livestock in and out of the said areas.

But Komen notes that there has been laxity in the implementation of the orders with animals still being moved in and out of the quarantine area, making it hard to contain the further spread of the disease.

"The quarantine is still in place, but the movement of livestock in and outside these constituencies is still rife. There has been laxity on the part of administrators, security agencies and veterinary officers as the disease spreads on," he lamented.

Komen lamented that a month after the disease was reported, the county had not taken the initiative to vaccinate stock outside the affected areas and that this gives leeway for further spread. From the 30 litres of milk that he got from his dairy cows in a day, he said, production has dropped to below two liters a day, adding that many other farmers were incurring heavy losses. He disclosed that the Ogilgei Cooperative Society in Kapsitwet sub-location where farmers in the area sell their milk produce is collapsing as a result of the shortage of the produce.

The dairy farmer disclosed that there were about 300 cattle in Kapsitwet alone with the cooperative society collecting an average 5,000 litres of milk every day, which has since dropped to below 300 litres a day.

Komen pointed out that up to three-month-old calves and sheep that contract the disease barely survive.

"We have been advised to use busaa (schnapps!) Some of us have never used it before since we were born, we even don't know how it is prepared," said the agitated dairy farmer.

He said veterinary officers had advised the use of pinstripe but decried that Agro Vets had hiked the price of the drug now retailing at Sh400 per 50ml dose which is almost two times the normal price. Komen regretted that the drug was nonetheless ineffective and that the farmers had turned to baking powder, Magadi and table salt, which they use to spray and clean the mouth and feet of their animals.

The dairy farmer lamented that there were no extension officers from the department of Agriculture to give them directions.

As if capitalising on the challenge, Komen said some unidentified persons were moving around on motorbikes claiming to offer vaccinations at Sh300. He said farmers were even not aware of the drugs used for the vaccines, Komen said they suspect they were quacks out to make a kill since there was no communication from the county government on their presence.

He also cast doubts over the pricing observing that it was too low, raising eyebrows about where they obtain their vaccines from, yet it was currently a challenge to find such in the market.

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