Across Uganda, abattoirs are synonymous with dirt. Beef processed under those abattoirs hardly meet international requirements. However this will become a thing of the past with a multi-billion shillings abattoir gets underway three kilometers from Lyantonde district.
The abattoir with an initial fifty cattle per day slaughter is mainly targeting major supermarkets and hotels in Kampala, Mbrarara as well as the international markets.
The proposed abattoir sits on a 17-acre land which a cattle holding land will be constructed to have cattle transported to the facility have enough rest before they are stored.
The investment is an idea of academics in Food Science and veterinary like Professors Mondo Kagonyera and George Byarugaba Bazirake. Professor Mondo Kagonyera now Chancellor at Kabale University formerly served as Dean Faculty Veterinary at Makerere University.
Professor Georg William Byarugaba Bazirake was the Dean and Senior Researcher, Faculty of Science, Kyambogo University.
Professor Byarugaba says the project is partly out of the concern minimise the torture that cows are subjected to during transportation to slaughterhouses.
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From the food Science perspective, Professor Byarugaba says beef from abattoirs around the country doesn't meet international requirement because of poor handling.
Scientific research by Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has shown that warm-blooded animals including livestock feel pain and the emotion of fear.
The studies show that fear and pain are very strong causes of stress in livestock and stress affects the quality of meat obtained from this livestock.
Pain is usually the effect of injury and suffering, which also affects the quality and value of meat from affected animals.
The energy required for muscle activity in the live animal is obtained from sugars known as glycogen in the muscle. In the healthy and well-rested animal, the glycogen content of the muscle is high.
FAO studies indicate that after the animal has been slaughtered, the glycogen in the muscle is converted into lactic acid, and the muscle and carcass becomes firm.
This lactic acid is necessary to produce meat, which is tasteful and tender, of good keeping quality and good colour.
Professor Byarugaba believes the current handling of cattle at slaughter houses affects the quality of beef.
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In rural and urban abattoirs the cows or bulls are killed by slaughtering with sharp knives. Byarugaba says they plan to use modern stunning method to avoid much pain to the animal before it dies.
With standards met, Professor Byarugaba says his group plans to secure beef exports mainly to China where the market for beef and offal remain high. His fear is whether they would be able to meet the international market demands.
Cattle are the main source of meat in the country and are reared on rangelands in the cattle corridors extend from Moroto and Kotido in North East through central Uganda to South West of Mubende, Masaka Rakai and Mbarara.
The Ministry of agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries together with Uganda Investment Authority have in the past highlighted lack of modern abattoirs as one of the challenges to beef exports.