Botswana: Agriculture Ministry Controls Fmd

| February 18, 2016

Gaborone - The goal with respect to Foot and Mouth Disease in Ngamiland has never been eradication, but control of movement of livestock and their products as well as vaccination of cattle because of the existence of buffaloes in the area.

Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia said in response to a parliamentary question that in Ngamiland failure by farmers to control movement of their cattle and bring them for vaccination has exacerbated the FMD situation.

Furthermore, he said his ministry improved the vaccine used in Ngamiland by incorporating the Habu strain to ensure use of an effective vaccine.

"My ministry has constructed cordon fences that allow for zoning of the district for controlling FMD and these reduce contact of livestock with wildlife," he said. Minister Ralotsia said a buffer zone is in an area where livestock were kept to serve as sentinels to warn about disease incursion.

A proposal, he said was being developed for establishing such a zone, where cattle resident along the buffalo fence were intensively vaccinated for FMD, adding once that buffer was established, the rest of the district may gain a free without vaccination status over a period of time.

Member of Parliament for Maun East Konstantinos Markus has asked the minister if he was aware of the impact of Makalamabedi Protection Zone on the farmers who were not in Hainaveld and what action would be taken to help farmers to reduce cattle mortality due to overgrazing.

Meanwhile, responding to another question from MP Markus, the minister explained that his ministry established the Protection Zone (subzone 2e), which is delineated from the rest of the communal area in subzone 2d by a double cordon fence that runs along boundary of farms and Ramsar site.

Mr Ralotsia told Parliament that the protection zone was established with a view to expand marketing opportunities for cattle from Ngamiland.

"This allowed export of cattle to Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo with direct benefits to farmers until the outbreak of FMD in Hainaveld," he said.

The minister also said he was aware of the complaints by farmers outside the Makalamabedi Protection Zone fence regarding lack of access to grazing inside the farms in the protected zone.

To mitigate against overgrazing, he said government has subsidised livestock feeds by 50 per cent to enable farmers to support their cattle. Furthermore, he said mortality observed in the cattle in the area was due to cattle being trapped in Lake Ngami.

"My ministry is working on conducting mobile services to bring feeds closer to farmers," he said.

MP for Maun East, Mr Kostantinos Markus had asked the minister if he is aware of the impact of Makalamabedi Protection zone on the farmers who are not in Hainaveld and what action will be taken to help farmers to reduce cattle mortality due to overgrazing.

Source: BOPA

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