Last week, the minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, revealed that government will start registering animal births to enable those who import our meat trace the origin of the animals from which the meat is got.
They will then be given identification documents which some people have termed as “Ndaga Nsolo.”
The measure is especially directed at cattle owners given that beef is a leading meat export.
Ssempijja said many of the importers of our meat want to trace the origin of the animals, their feeding habits, age etc.
However, a number of cattle owners smell a rat in this move and are suspicious that there could be ill-motives behind the decision.
They have written a letter to President Museveni asking him to intervene. The Rogue managed to see a draft of the letter written by their chairman, Mr Ntezange. We reproduce it below.
We send you warn greetings and appreciate all the good work you have done for this country.
Indeed, we laud you on your campaign to get Ugandans out of poverty through the regional tours.
Mr President, we write to you out of great concern after we read that one of your ministers proposed that animals, specifically cows, shall now have to have a birth certificate as proof of their origin or place of birth.
As one of the biggest owners of cattle in this country, you know that such a move is unwarranted.
Just like the Baganda say that a Muganda man does not count his children, a good cattle keeper does not need to know how big or small his herd is.
Mr President, cattle keeping for some of us is much more than a business. It is a passion and gives us a sense of historical pride.
At best only the owner should know the size of his cattle. Not a nosy government official who may have ulterior motives.
Remember in 2005 when former vice president Prof Gilbert Bukenya complained that some state agents had stormed his farm and counted the number of paw paw trees?
He was bitter that someone was trying to infringe on his privacy and trying to estimate his wealth.
Imagine your excellency, an extension officer coming to your farm and counting the number of long horned Ankole cows that you own and pride yourself in?
Imagine a headline in a newspaper that: “Museveni owns 100,000 Ankole cows?”
What would some people make of it?
Will this please you?
Of course it will not.
Sir, we are not convinced that the reason behind the move is to enable those who buy our beef establish that origin and age of the cow.
If that was the case, then they would request all those who export meat to provide such information on the documents accompanying the meat.
But they want to come to the farms and count the cattle.
Logistically for some of us who won thousands of cows, we can’t easily keep count of the calves.
Therefore as chairperson of the Uganda Cattle Owners’ Association (UCOA), I propose that the decision to register all cattle births should be stayed.
It touches at the heart of our pride.
Indeed, Mr President, some years back (in 1987) while presiding over as chief guest at the Bika bya Baganda football finals you proudly said that you belong to Nte (cow) clan. This is indication that you are proud to be associated with cattle. We hope that you will do the needful and bring the minister to order.
We thank you and hope to hear from you.
Ntezange, chairman (UCOA).
The Rogue is a satirical column that runs once a week on The Nile Post.
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