The outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), resulting into the prohibition of eating bush meat, particularly fruit bats, monkeys and chimpanzee; is affecting people involved in the bush meat market. They are going out of business; some have begun complaining of economy hardship.
Bush meat sellers, who spoke with the Daily Observer in Gbarnga yesterday, complained that with the World Health Organization and other organizations’ proscription on the eating of specific animals like monkeys, fruit bats and chimpanzees, the government of Liberia has banned the eating of all kinds of bush meat without further explanation.
The bush meat sellers notified the Daily Observer that they are no longer in business because the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has informed consumers of bush meat that bush meat contains the Ebola virus.
“The ban on bush meat eating has extremely affected our business in the county and it has driven us out of business,” Korpo Tokpa, a dry meat seller lamented.
Most bush meat sellers argued that since the outbreak of the EVD in the country in March, there has been no medical report of anyone contracting the virus through the eating of bush meat. But that their businesses have been affected since government announced that bush meat contains the Ebola virus.
“We agreed that the virus is real and is claiming lives, but we don’t think the meat is responsible for the spread of the disease. The ban on the sale and consumption of bush meat is affecting our business and has introduced economy hardship on us marketers already poor people,” another businesswoman, Cecelia Davis, remarked.
Kebbeh Jallah: I used to sell dry meat pepper soup and the business ran successfully but since government placed the ban on the sale and eating of bush meat, the business has collapsed, reason no one wants to buy and eat bush meat because of the message.”
A visit to the Gbarnga General Market and other markets by this reporter last week, where bush meat is sold proved that there is low purchase of bush meat in the markets.
The section in the Gbarnga General Market, which sells bush meat looked like an old market place as consumers of bush meat seemed to have abandoned it.
The bush meat sellers lamented that they are the worst hit in the Ebola trauma. They noted that they had to turn to selling fish for now as a means of survival because of the low purchase of their commodity, which was once a priced commodity on the Liberian market.
Bush meat, which they said, was normally sold between L$800 (US$9.50) per quarter depending on the size, is now being sold for half the amount, that is, if they see anyone who may want to buy it.
They lamented that since the outbreak of the disease in the country, they have been merely surviving as their means of livelihood has been badly hit.
They said their businesses will not survive if Ebola is not eradicated from the country.
Investigation conducted by this reporter established that most restaurants operators in Gbarnga, the political seat of Bong County, that exclusively sold bush meat before the outbreak of the virus in the country, have resorted to selling only goat meat pepper soup as alternative to the bush meat.
Speaking to the Daily Observer the Superintendent of the Liberia Marketing Association Bong County Branch, Madam Viola Nyamah Cooper admitted that in accordance with government’s restriction on the sale and consumption of bush meat, her organization has warned its members specifically those in the business of selling bush meat to abandon it and venture into another trade until the virus can be defeated out of the country.
The local market Superintendent told this paper as the result of government’s mandate, bush meat traders are constrained to discontinue selling bush meat in the markets.