Botswana: FMD Cripples Ngamiland Beef Industry

The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Naune crush, Sehithwa extension in Ngamiland district last week has crippled the beef industry in the North West region. The outbreak comes after the district has been recovering from another outbreak which happened the same area in 2017.

The FMD outbreak has negatively affected farmers, butcheries and abbaitors/ slaughter slabs in Ngamiland region, leading to shortage of beef. FMD has been recurring in Ngamiland for many years, however, during such outbreaks there is always a blame game between farmers and government officials, especifically the Department of Veterinary Services. The DVS blames outbreaks on farmers, accusing them of failing to vaccinate their cattle. However, farmers on the other hand blame DVS for failing to maintain cordon fences which separate cattle pastures from wild animals, especifically buffaloes which are known carriers of the disease.

Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) abbattoir in Maun will also bear the brunt of the outbreak as they have been forcd to suspend production immediately. The plant manager, Oabona Ramotshwara said they stopped slaughtering and buying cattle with effect from Monday. "We are waiting for DVS to give us an update on the new protocol movement," he said, adding that whenever there is an outbreak of FMD the abbaitor makes a loss.

Meanwhile, the Nhabe Agricultural Management (NAMA) farmers' association representative Charles Madise said they are not able to sell their cattle due to the outbreak. He said this is the second time they are having an outbreak in their area. He however said they continue to encourage famers to vaccinate cattle in large numbers to control further spread of the disease to other areas. Masedi conceded that the outbreak may have been caused by cattle that were not vaccinated. He decried that they have a challenge in vaccinating cattle in areas around Lake Ngami and have asked government to help build vaccinating crushes in the area. "There is always an outbreak because most of the cattle at Lake Ngami are not vaccinated and they mix with those who are vaccinated," he said.

The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security (MoADFS) has confirmed a new outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Ngamiland District. In a statement issued on June 13, the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) said five cattle have since been quarantined after exhibiting suspicious symptoms consistent with FMD. DVS Director Dr Letlhogile Modisa said the department has since banned the slaughter and movement of all cloven-hoofed animals in and out of the district to prevent the disease from spreading. "As a result of preliminary findings, the slaughter and movement of all cloven hooved animals and their fresh products within and out of the Sehithwa, Toteng, Bodibeng, Kareng and Semboyo extension areas has been suspended until further notice," Modisa said.

Government has also suspended the sale of all meat and meat products that were produced by Ngamiland-based slaughter and processing plants in the last 30 days. Farmers have been urged to cooperate with agricultural extension officials in reporting and rounding up sick animals. The quarantine order will be reviewed as soon as the extent of the outbreak is determined.

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