With the detection of foot and mouth disease in certain regions of South Africa, the largest importer of livestock in Mauritius, Socovia (Belle-Vue) Ltée, finds itself unable to transport a sufficient number of cattle to 'Eid-ul-Adha. The authorities hope, however, that the shortfall will be compensated by the Rodriguan livestock.

Between 4,800 and 4,900. This is the number of animals imported by the main livestock supplier on the Mauritian market, within the framework of Qurbani 2024. However, this figure remains insufficient compared to the annual demand which revolves around 5,500 heads. “We were due to receive another shipment of livestock, but with the detection of several cases of foot and mouth disease in South Africa, it is no longer possible to import more. It is therefore possible that we are short of a few hundred heads,” pointed out a spokesperson for Socovia (Belle Vue) Ltée, reached by telephone yesterday. What's more, of the 4,800 to 4,900 heads, our interlocutor explains that almost all of them have already found buyers, because Mauritians of the Muslim faith usually reserve their animals very early for the Qurbani. “It was difficult to win,” concedes the spokesperson.

He indicates that the importing company is currently working to identify other sources to obtain livestock, because beyond the Eid-ul-Adha festival, Socovia (Belle Vue) Ltée also supplies the market for the regular demand for oxen. “With the assistance of the veterinary service [du ministère de l’Agro-industrie], we are currently exploring other countries in Africa or other regions in South Africa where there are no cases of foot-and-mouth disease. Whatever the origin, the animals that we import must naturally meet the required health and veterinary conditions, not to mention that the price must remain affordable for the Mauritian consumer. “We can do as much as possible to save life,” specifies the spokesperson.

Turn to Rodrigues

To compensate for the lack of oxen on the market, estimated at between 600 to 700 head for the Qurbani, not counting the daily needs for beef, our interlocutor hopes that the Rodriguan herd will make it possible to keep our heads above water.

The authorities also hope that animals from Rodrigues will help meet local demand. “With the prevalence of foot and mouth disease in South Africa, we are banking on the Rodrigues herd,” underlines a source at the Ministry of Agro-industry. This is categorical: “The veterinary service is monitoring the situation. It will not be possible to import animals from regions affected by foot-and-mouth disease, except those without cases. Even in this context, animals will have to be imported by plane, because healthy ones cannot pass through the affected regions,” she adds.

Six permits granted

In a parliamentary response on May 14, the Minister of Agro-industry, Mahen Seeruttun, indicated that six import permits had been issued to two companies, namely Socovia (Belle Vue) Ltée and Ubora Ventures Ltd to make to bring livestock for Qurbani 2024. He was responding to a question from MMM MP, Reza Uteem. On that date, a total of 5,346 heads had already set foot on Mauritian soil in three shipments. An additional 1,425 head were expected by the end of May.

No cases of foot and mouth disease in Mauritius

The Ministry of Agro-industry is categorical: no case of foot-and-mouth disease has been detected in Mauritius. The main supplier also refutes rumors that some of the imported beef fell ill. “There are no clinical signs of disease [parmi les animaux] on our farm,” guarantees the spokesperson for Socovia (Belle Vue) Ltée. If the farm was closed to the public, it would be “to enforce biosecurity standards”. “Also, knowing that we are not going to get more cattle, we do not want to take more reservations than animals available,” he adds.

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