The recent outbreak of Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in Namibia -also known as lung disease - poses a threat to cattle in Ngamiland, Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia has told local farmers.
Addressing Ngamiland farmers in Maun on Thursday, Ralotsia warned that the outbreak is a threat to Ngamiland beef which is also threatened by the continuous outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) which has affected beef exports to the lucrative European market.
He said Botswana takes any CBPP outbreak seriously given that the country experienced a debilitating outbreak in 1995 after 56 years absence. CBPP was eradicated by applying the stamping out policy in 1996 which resulted in the slaughter of 320 000 cattle. Government compensated farmers, offering them different options. In 1997 the restocking exercise introduced 70 000 cattle in Ngamiland. Ralotsia said the recent outbreak at Caprivi Strip has affected more than 50 cattle and claimed four deaths. Caprivi Strip is 50km from Shakawe village in the Northern Botswana.
Ralotsia said given the bad state of Botswana cordon fences, which are not maintained regularly, anything is possible. He observed that Botswana and Namibia have a lot in common as the people on either side of the border are relatives. He therefore advised them to be cautious when travelling to Namibia to avoid the re-emergence of the disease.
He decried that some farmers destroy the cordon fences deliberately, and cautioned that this poses a risk of spreading diseases from across the border. He however admitted that elephants also destroy the fences but urged farmers to cooperate with officials to avoid the tragedy to repeat itself.
Meanwhile, Ralotsia explained that the outbreak of FMD in June has affected the Ngamiland beef export. He said before the outbreak Maun abattoir had secured market such as Kuwait, Vietnam, and Mozambique but are currently only exporting to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ralotsia said this situation has negatibvely affected the abattoir as it is failing to pay farmers. He admitted that they owe farmers close to six months arrears. He however assured farmers that they have secured some money and will pay farmers soon. He stressed that the Maun BMC will continue to look for export market to increase the off take of Ngamiland beef.
The Ngamiland Agricultural District Coordinator, Obet Mabutha said FMD status since the first outbreak in June at Naune in the Sehithwa extension area is improving. He added that there was another outbreak at Habu village on the 7th of July but from that period there have never been any new reports. He also highlighted that the vaccination coverage has been going on in the district since the outbreak of the disease.
The chairman of Ngamiland Joint Famers Association chairman, appreciated the Minister efforts to continuously visit them adding that this is commendable efforts. He however decried that Ngamiland farmers face numerous challenge due to continuous outbreak of the FMD in the region. Mafela who was speaking on behalf of three associations in the district being Ngamiland Agricultural Management Association NAMA, Ngamiland Integrated Farmers Association (NWIFA) and Hainaveld Farmers Association said that as farmers they want the BMC to increase the price for their cattle. He added that the last increase was in 2016. He said that commodity prices has increased and therefore farmers are feeling the pinch. He pleaded with the Minister to consider their request. He also decried that the situation at BMC is worse as it has been six months without being paid their cheques.