Livestock producers will redouble efforts to uphold foot-and-mouth disease free status
By Thinus Pretorius
Chairperson of the Livestock Producers’ Organisation.
The Livestock Producers’ Organisation has noted with empathy and understanding the concern of the United States Cattlemen’s Association about a possible foot-and-mouth disease contamination from Africa, specifically from Namibia.
Namibia has a disease-free, highly regulated and individually traceable livestock system. For approximately 60 years, the country has managed to be foot-and-mouth-free due to the effective and stringent procedures put in place. This is an achievement of which Namibia is proud. The Livestock Producers’ Organisation can however relate to the concerns of the United States Cattlemen’s Association, because a possible foot-and-mouth outbreak south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence will spell disaster for the Namibian red meat industry.
Namibia has a small beef production capacity that contributes but 0.5% to the world market. It contributes about 4% of the GDP of Namibia. It may sound insignificant, but 72% of the population is dependent on farming, whilst livestock production is the mainstay of the rural economy.
Although there are challenges in maintaining Namibia’s animal health status, these challenge have been dealt with successfully over the past 60 years. The industry together with the relevant authorities will continue to deal with it successfully in the future – contrary to what has been published in the media recently.
Namibia is the only country in Africa that is accredited to export meat from its foot and mouth-free zone to basically the whole world. Losing its export market will result in livestock farmers losing their livelihood. The foot and mouth disease is perhaps a greater threat to the Namibian producer and the economy as a whole, than it is to the US industry. Livestock producers in this country will do everything in their power to uphold the free status.
Various protocols are put in place by the competent authority to eliminate the risk of contamination, including inoculation north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence, a surveillance area within then foot and mouth-free zone with strict movement control, and strict procedures by export abattoirs regarding post-mortem tests and cooling of carcasses to eliminate any risks of virus infection, etc.
We appeal to our fellow meat producers across the world to support us in our efforts to keep the free zone disease-free and to keep on producing some of the best free-range meat – grass fed and hormone free.