Foot and Mouth disease a growing concern
Though no outbreaks have been detected in the FMD free and surveillance zones of the country which is south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence various stakeholders in the meat production industry have called on the government to be more vigilant in stopping the spread of the disease.
Speaking at Meatco’s Media open season day also held on Wednesday this week, Goliath Tujendapi, Trade and Strategic Manager at the Namibian Meat Board said FMD is not something that can be tackled by throwing money at it, “We need to understand that FMD is a growing concern not only for farmers and the government but the public as well as it has the potential to affect our economy in a great way. We must not throw money at the problem but be proactive in fighting the disease”.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry together with the Directorate of Veterinary Services, announced this week it has put in place control measures to contain the disease in areas where it has been identified. Futhermore, close surveillance of district not yet affected, is carried out daily.
The ministry advised that animals should be moved only under a veterinary red line movement permit in sealed vehicles and that animals may only be moved into the containment area provided they are quarantined for a minimum of 35 days in an official DVS farm where they will be vaccinated against FMD and lung sickness in case of cattle. In addition, an amount of N$156 million will be availed to the ministry to stop the spread of the disease to other parts of the country and close to 35 surveillance teams have been deployed throughout the Northern Communal Areas.
Tujendapi said the disease has a very negative effect on meat exports as traders do not want to trade because of the outbreak. “In the last outbreak we experienced a loss of between N$45 million to N$60 million in just three month due to traders not accepting an un-vaccinated product. Markets do not want to trade when there is such an outbreak so we have learnt the hard way”.
Another speaker at the open season day was Meatco CEO, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro who also stressed the need to control the spread of FMD. “Foot and Mouth disease, if not effectively addressed as it must, will turn into a national disaster of unforeseen proportions. We must effectively address the movement of cattle. Namibia will never be the same if this problem is not addressed” he said.
Rukoro said that Meatco also faces other challenges other than FMD, in that the supply of veld cattle has decreased even more rapidly during the past 23 years with only 53.2% of total throughput secured through traditional producer initiatives such as the feedlot. “We also have concerns regarding operational costs, the quality of cattle, throughput volume and limited markets. We do however have plans to develop more feedlots around the country at Annasruh, at Otavi Pforte, in the Okavango region and a southern feedlot in the Hardap region.”