THE Namibian government will ask the European Union (EU) to exempt parts of the country from the 40-day residency requirement put in place by the union on the importation of animal products.
Speaking in the National Assembly (NA) yesterday, the minister of agriculture, water and forestry, John Mutorwa, said that areas south of the veterinary cordon fence (VCF) are free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) while animals north of the 'Red Line' are easily identifiable and traceable.
"No animals of a lower disease status are allowed into the free zone. In addition, measures are in place to protect the zone, which is under constant disease surveillance," Mutorwa said.
The EU imposed the 40-day residency requirement for meat imports mainly to reduce the risk of spreading FMD to Europe.
"In the case of Namibia, this risk is greatly minimised, if not eliminated, by the fact that Namibia maintains an FMD-free zone which is recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health," the minister said.
"The requirement of isolation camps for animals destined for the EU market would make it difficult, if not impossible, for communal farmers to market their livestock directly to abattoirs and still make some money," Mutorwa said.
It would also be an extra financial burden on commercial farmers to establish isolation camps.
He said Namibia has checkpoints for controlling the movement of animals, animal products and other materials that may pose a risk of FMD transmission, while routine maintenance of border and internal fences is done periodically to prevent entry of potentially infected animals from outside the country's borders.
He said animals slaughtered for the EU market are identified and registered in a national system of identification and certification of origin, and are transported, slaughtered and processed separate from other animals.