How healthy is local livestock?

From the left are Dr John Shoopala, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Dagmar Honsbein General Manager of Agra Provision , Dr John Steytler, Economic Advisor to the President, and Bertus Kruger, the session facilitator where the current status of animal disease was discussed by experts. Dr Steytler noted that the agricultural sector contributes to GDP and earns forex through exports. Without these forex inflows, Namibia’s currency peg to the South African Rand could be at risk. The agricultural sector employs at least 1/3 of the working population.

“Agriculture is an important sector that has been part of Namibia’s development programmes and defined as the first link in the value chain for the ‘Growth at Home’ drive,” said Dr John Steytler, Economic Advisor to the President at Agra ProVision’s breakfast meeting last week Friday, 26 June.

Hosted under the theme “What is happening to Namibia’s Animal Health?” the event discussed Namibia’s animal health status and the economic importance of livestock to Namibia’s development.
Dr Johannes Shoopala, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry said that one of the challenges that was noted is the increase of livestock in the Northern Communal Areas from 600,000 cattle in 1990 to 1.5 million in 2014. This leads to overstocking, dwindling of grazing resources and land degradation,” he said. “Despite these numerous challenges, it is noteworthy to mention that the country has been complying with international standards that allows Namibia to supply high quality livestock products worldwide.”
Dagmar Honsbein, General Manager of Agra Provision said “The recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the Northern Communal Areas came as a wake-up call to remind us about the importance of maintaining healthy livestock.”
The Directorate of Veterinary Services has extended its services to different regions making livestock production inclusive.” Dr Shoopala said, “The recorded diseases with or without potential threat to trade have been controlled and strict measures are in place to ensure that our livestock is protected and free of from diseases.”
Dr Steytler said; “Agriculture is our livelihood, and we need to find strategies on how to turn it into sustainable and profitable businesses. We need to be productive on our land, to ensure that our land sustains us for generations to come.”

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