Government is planning to expand green zone areas by upgrading the FMD affected areas known as red zones to improve the beef sector in the country. The Deputy Director in the Department of Veterinary Services Dr Oarabile revealed that his department has made significant progress in controlling the outbreak of FMD in red zone areas such as zone 7 of Bobirwa areas and Zone 3b of Nata areas. Dr Oarabile revealed the plans at Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) stakeholder engagement in Maun on Friday. He also noted that once farmers from red zones have been lifted to green zones they can have access to lucrative markets of the European Union. Farmers from zone 7 and 3b can even afford to sell their cattle to abattoirs because they have only been selling to butcheries within their zones.
He said as a control strategy in the department their mandate is to expand green zones so that the farming community can benefit. He said the last outbreak of FMD in Zone 7 and 3b was in 2012 and this shows that the department has made a significant control measures hence the importance to lift zone areas into green zones. Dr Oarabile said there is a challenge of false allegations of FMD outbreaks, which cause panic and distress on farmers and his department. For now, he said the only FMD threat is from the neighboring countries which share the borders with Botswana such as Zimbabwe. "There are also threats of FMD outbreaks from Zimbabwe but our teams are doing our surveillance to make sure that there are no threats,"he said.
Dr Oarabile said they have already submitted a report to the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE for approval, and will send a progress status of the zones to the OIE to ensure that there are no new outbreaks of FMD in those areas. He also indicated that they hope for a positive response from the OIE next year around this time. “Remember that this is a long process and we are hoping for the best outcome," he said.