Market Efficiency Fund benefits rural farmers
In its quest to bring services closer to the livestock farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in partnership with the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Namibia has developed a fund which amongst other initiatives, is constructing five State Veterinary Offices in the northern regions. This effort goes hand in hand with the government’s objectives to improve and expand the provision of animal health and livestock extension services to previously neglected areas. The veterinary offices are being built at Omuthiya, Okakarara, Eenhana, Epukiro and Outapi.
In June 2012, the government commissioned the Northern Communal Areas Foot and Mouth Disease and Lung sickness Freedom project to improve rural livelihoods in areas north of the redline by removing current sanitary restrictions. In addition to delivering a set of strategies to eradicate Lung Sickness and improve the risk management of Foot and Mouth disease, the most important goal is to provide market acces to livestock and other meat products from animals raised in the northern communal areas.
Apart from managing the project, the ministry is also responsible for implementing the MCA- funded Traceability System which involves the registration of all cattle in the northern communal areas in order to to trace their movements from birth to the abattoir. This funding provides modern scanning equipment as well as around two million electronic ear tags.
According to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Joseph Iita, further strengthening of the veterinary services and securing community involvement in disease surveillance are needed not only to improve animal health management but also to create the necessary capacity to eradicate Lung Sickness and prove the persistent absence of Foot and Mouth disease.
Iita, who spoke on behalf of the minister during the consultation meeting with the Northern Communal Areas Foot and Mouth Disease and Lung sickness Freedom project committee members, says that freedom from both Foot and Mouth disease and Lung Sickness, and achieving international recognition of this status, depends on cooperation with neighbouring countries such as Angola, Botswana and Zambia.
“Achieving freedom from trans boundary animal diseases with or without physical barriers demand joint efforts across our national boundaries and perhaps the establishment of trans-frontier disease-free zones to the benefit of the agricultural sectors of our countries,” he said.