In the aftermath of Eid, where does lumpy skin disease stand? Dairy and meat farmers alike continue to be worried as the viral disease spreads more quickly
At the Thokar Niaz entrance to Lahore only a stone’s throw away from the toll plaza, Muhammad Saleem* was stopped at a make-shift check-post. The officers manning it were neither police nor paramilitary. They belonged to the Punjab Livestock Department. Every year for the past two decades, Saleem and his family have been rearing livestock and bringing it to larger cities like Lahore and Faisalabad to sell them as sacrificial animals for Eid. “There’s always something or the other. The livestock department makes sure to make our lives difficult each year. But it was different on this occasion. We were told that small bribes were not cutting it anymore and cows were being turned back and not allowed in the city,”
The reason? Lumpy Skin Disease – better known as LSD. The disease had rapidly been spreading through Sindh and KP and had entered Punjab as well. With the inflow of livestock into urban centres on the occasion of Eid, the fear was that Eid would turn into a super-spreader event and also put into circulation bad meat and infect the milk-supply of a lot of peri-urban dairy farmers that live on the edge of the city. “We were told to be vigilant this time. So I bought vaccines. I vaccinated nearly all of my livestock but could not get it for all of the cows because a 100 ml vial costs as much as Rs 44,000 and we are already operating on thin margins and the whims of buyers,” says Saleem. But when they finally got to the checkpost, the livestock department officials simply cast a quick glance at the cars that Saleem’s animals were being brought in, they checked a few ears, flashed a phone torchlight on the hides of a few of the cows, and let them go after signing and stamping a few papers. Saleem realised quickly that the officials were tired and not staffed well enough to do this job diligently.
“We all know how bad the heat has been. These men doing the inspections were sweaty, cranky, and exhausted. They didn’t have the time and energy to get on every vehicle and inspect each animal. So I called my brother and told him when he brings the next batch of animals, there was no need to go through the expense of vaccinating them. Besides, if we did get caught there were solutions. You can get a NADRA registered Covid-vaccination card here for Rs 15,000 for people. It isn’t like getting these documents for animals is any harder.” That, in short, is the reality of how LSD was handled on the occasion of Eid ul Adha. The livestock department under checked animals to deflate numbers and create a false sense of calm. They also told people the meat and milk from these animals was safe to consume even though this is not the recommended practice.
The results in the immediate aftermath of Eid are already chock-full of disasters. For the past few years, leather imports had been down because of Covid related lockdowns. This year, with cases low around Eid and no lockdown, the industry was expecting imports worth $1 billion. However the presence of LSD means they will not clear over $950 million in exports and may even end up lower than that. A lot of the hides they are getting are infected and that means they are completely unusable. The more than five million dairy and meat farmers in the country are also being hit hard by LSD. Initially, LSD had been striking dairy farms in rural areas but with the advent of Eid more cases have started emerging in small-scale dairy farmers operating on the outskirts of cities like Lahore. That is because a large amount of the milk supply of Urban centres particularly from ‘gawalas’ that provide fresh milk comes from small dairy farm setups in peri-urban locations. The true impact of Eid on the spread of LSD will make itself known over the coming few weeks. Because of the lack of oversight and the livestock department’s complicity in trying to tamp down the fear, there is no way of determining exactly what this effect is but it could prove disastrous.
Source: This news is originally published by profit.pakistantoday