Namibia: Diseases Trigger Import Bans From Botswana, Spain

THE Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has suspended the importation of cloven-hoofed animals and their products from Botswana, following suspicions of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), and that of poultry, live birds and poultry products from Spain because of the outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

The importation bans were announced by chief veterinary officer Albertina Shilongo in different notices issued on 24 and 25 August.

They were also confirmed by ministry spokesperson Jona Musheko.

Shilongo told importers, farmers and stakeholders that Botswana had imposed a countrywide movement standstill of all FMD-susceptible animals and their raw products, including exports to other countries until further notice due to the suspicion of the FMD outbreak in that country.

Namibia has also banned the importation of these animals and their products.

This follows a similar ban on the importation of cloven-hoofed animals and their products from South Africa two weeks ago because of FMD outbreaks in several areas of the neighbouring country.

"Imports of all FMD-susceptible animals, their raw products and other potentially infectious materials such as straw, forage, lucerne and other livestock feed from Botswana has been suspended with immediate effect until further notice.

"All previously issued veterinary import permits are hereby cancelled and recalled," she said.

The notice said in-transit transportation of livestock products and feed through Botswana intended for Namibia or in transit in Namibia is allowed, provided transporting vehicles are sealed in the respective exporting countries and the seals remain intact while conveying through Botswana.

Shilongo said since the incubation period of the HPAI disease as set by the World Organisation for Animal Health is 14 days, the suspension of imports from Spain takes effect retrogressively 14 days prior to the date of the outbreak of the disease.

The disease is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly - especially in domestic poultry.

"In this case the outbreak was detected on 1 August, and the suspension therefore is effective from 18 July," Shilongo said.

"Thus consignments containing poultry products packed in their final packaging on or after the date of the start of suspension will be rejected and sent back to the country of origin or destroyed at the importer's cost," she said, adding that all previously issued import permits are cancelled and recalled with immediate effect.

Cooked poultry meat products for commercial purposes may still be imported into Namibia, said Shilongo.

Although Musheko could not provide figures, he said Namibia does not import a lot of chicken from Spain, but some importers still get supplies from that country, and the ban is to protect the growing Namibian poultry industry.

"This will not result in shortages of poultry products in the country, because importers can switch to other suppliers like Brazil," he said.

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