By Mashonaland East Correspondent
MARONDERA: Dodgy middlemen continue to take advantage of cattle dying in most parts of Mashonaland East province from a rare tick-borne disease, atheileriosis, and are selling the carcasses mainly to butcheries in Harare and Chitungwiza, it has been learnt.
Cattle farmers continue to count their losses as cattle succumb to the tick-borne disease due to failure to buy chemicals to dip their livestock. To avoid further losses, many cattle owners have now resorted to selling their infected herd at discounted prices to middlemen who have a ready market in Harare and surrounding areas.
Police in Marondera recently intercepted a pickup truck coming from Wedza with six cattle carcasses destined for Harare.
“Investigations revealed that the cattle had died of atheileriosis and the suspects bought the meat for resale in Harare. The meat was condemned as unsuitable for human consumption by health inspectors and was destroyed accordingly. Five suspects have been arrested in connection with the case,” Mashonaland East police spokesperson, Inspector Tendai Mwanza said.
The five suspects were later released after police investigations showed that the men had bought the meat in Wedza.
Mwanza urged the public to buy meat from reputable butcheries and abattoirs.
Theileriosis – commonly known as the January disease – is caused by a blood parasite called Theileria.
Meat from cattle suffering from such conditions should be removed from the food chain, but some middlemen have found a ready market for it and are sneaking it into butcheries mostly in Harare and Chitungwiza.
The condemned meat has also become a hit with cash-strapped consumers in urban areas.
Many cattle farmers in Wedza, Marondera and Macheke are selling their infected livestock for as low as US$50 from market-related prices of above US$250.
Farmers are failing to dip their cattle weekly, to disrupt the breeding cycle of ticks, due to chemical shortages while the Department Veterinary and Livestock Services is unable to supply dipping chemicals to small-scale farmers due to foreign currency shortages.