Abattoir operators in Gakenke and Musanze districts in the Northern Province have raised concerns over the traditional practice of home slaughtering, which is affecting their meat businesses.
Both private and public slaughterhouses, including the Gakenke Slaughter House operated by SOSEFIK LTD, are facing a shortage of animals for slaughter. Mark Gakwavu, manager of the Gakenke Slaughter House, which primarily supplies Kigali City and local butcheries, says that they are operating at only 30% of their capacity due to this shortage.
Gakwavu expressed concern about the persistence of unauthorized slaughtering in homes and remote areas.
“Some people still have the mindset of slaughtering in undesignated places – at home or in the bushes. It’s important for local authorities and security organizations to encourage the use of recognized slaughter areas,” he said.
Theobard Niyigaba Ikuzwe, Veterinarian for Gakenke slaughterhouse, echoed these sentiments. He pointed out the prevalence of traditional slaughtering methods in the local community, including the use of banana leaves and hidden forest locations, which significantly impacts the abattoir’s operations.
Niyigaba also raised concerns about the safety of meat consumed from these informal slaughters, urging that all animals be processed at district slaughterhouses. He emphasized the need to change the local perception that frozen meat is inferior to freshly slaughtered meat.
Alice Nyiramwiza, a resident of Gakenke, acknowledged the preference for fresh meat and noted the challenges posed by the scarcity of abattoirs in remote areas.
“In some cases, people eat meat from goats or sheep that have died, excluding cows where a veterinarian is involved. Many are accustomed to slaughtering within their families,” she explained.
Jean Marie Vianney Sindibona, owner of a pork slaughterhouse in Musanze, also highlighted a similar issue with the availability of swine for slaughter.
Maurice Mugabowagahunde, Governor of Northern Province, informed The New Times about ongoing measures to address illegal home slaughtering.
“Home slaughter is prohibited, and we are working on closing substandard abattoirs as recommended by the Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA). Our goal is to have fewer, but standard-compliant, slaughterhouses while turning the rest into meat distributors,” he stated.
Mugabowagahunde also mentioned new measures, including a ban on meat street vendors, aimed at improving the capacity of designated slaughterhouses.
Increased inspections are planned to discourage unauthorized slaughtering and ensure food safety.
Rwanda’s Ministerial Order Nº 012/11.30 of 18/11/2010 on Animal Slaughtering and Meat Inspection prohibits slaughtering in undesignated places, with certain exceptions authorized by district authorities.
RICA data shows there are 257 slaughterhouses in Rwanda, including 7 large, 12 medium, 28 small, and 200 unclassified facilities.