19 October 2017

Namibia: MPs Want Re-Introduction of Vaccination Subsidies

Photo: East African Business Week
(File photo).

Windhoek — The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources has recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry re-introduce vaccination subsidies for both communal and commercial farmers in order to curb the spread of diseases and improve livestock health.

The number of outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, anthrax, lung-sickness and rabies has increased and pose challenges to communal and commercial farmers. The call for the re-introduction is also aimed at increasing overall animal productivity.

Until recently, government subsidised vaccination of livestock for farmers, but farmers are now expected to purchase and administer the vaccines for their livestock themselves.

Some farmers have been complaining that vaccines are expensive and prices are not standardised. They say a 100ml bottle can cost anything between N$680 and N$900 at various private businesses.

The farmers also feel some private businesses do not provide proper information on how to store, administer and handle the vaccines.

The proposals by the parliamentary standing committee to re-introduce vaccination subsidies follow a motion tabled in the National Assembly by DTA president McHenry Venaani in June 2016. After debates in the National Assembly it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources for further scrutiny and to report back.

As part of the action plan, the committee conducted public hearings and consultative meetings in the Ohangwena, Kavango West, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions. The meetings, which were conducted in two phases, took place between May 8 and June 2 this year.

The meetings were aimed at providing a platform for farmers to state their concerns, challenges and the difficulties they face in the quest to ensure good health for their livestock. The committee chairperson Sophia

Swartz subsequently presented their findings on the motion on livestock vaccination subsidies.

The overall aim, she said, was to devise mechanisms to ensure vaccines are subsidised. She said after consultation, the committee recommended that vaccination subsidies be re-introduced and vaccines directly procured by and stocked at the extension offices of the Agriculture Ministry and not sold to private businesses.

The motion proposed that government subsidises the supavax, anthrax and brucellosis vaccines. It further proposes that in communal areas, government should provide a subsidy of up to 80 percent towards the purchase of the vaccines.

Venaani's motion also suggested that on communal farms under the Resettlement Scheme, government could provide a subsidy of up to 35 percent for the purchase of the vaccines. Further, the standing committee proposed that to commercial farmers, government could provide a subsidy up to 10 percent towards the purchase of vaccines.

Swartz said the committee found out there was an acute shortage of staff in extension offices, particularly inspectors to monitor and control vaccinations.

They also found that there was a lack of markets for farmers residing north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence, saying such farms have nowhere to sell their livestock, because Meatco's mobile abattoirs only buy from selected farmers in communal areas.

Therefore, the committee advised the Agriculture Ministry to assist communal farmers to find markets for their livestock, adding that this will enable them to re-invest in the health of their livestock. Moreover, they called on the same ministry to intensify efforts to create awareness and train farmers on how to vaccinate livestock.

Swartz said the ministry should embrace the concept of para-veterinary officers, whereby selected members of the community are trained as animal health community workers, responsible for correctly injecting and vaccinating livestock.communal and commercial farmers to curb the spread of foot and mouth disease, anthrax, lung-sickness and rabies.

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