Botswana beef risks losing EU market on FMD handling
by John Regonamanye
Botswana has been warned that its beef will not attract buyers internationally should it embark on its own regulations governing the recurrent Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and disregard World Animal Health Organization (OIE) regulations.
Christian DeGraaf, the Minister of Agriculture, told parliament this week that the OIE is the backbone of Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), and without it the country’s economy faces danger.
“Should Botswana embark on its regulations governing FMD, we would not be allowed to sell (to the European countries) by OIE, resulting in the closure of BMC,” explained Degraaf.
Parliamentarians wanted Botswana to draw its own law governing the disease that affect the livelihood of many Batswana.
Botswana‘s beef industry is the country’s third GDP earner after diamond and tourism. For some time, the industry has been hit by FMD, the latest reported case in the Ngamiland and North East districts.
The outbreak prompted closure of the BMC abattoir in the area and the subsequent suspension by OIE of Botswana’s imports beef to Europe.
“For the beef industry to blossom we should strictly stick to the OIE regulations. We are guided by OIE regulations,” said the minister.
FMD that has also been detected lately along Kuke cordon fence, which has irked farmers in Ngamiland, who think government is using the disease as a scapegoat to erect a buffer zone in the area. The argument is that the fence will pave way for the creation of game farming in the area.
Kgosi Ebineng Potsoeng of Ngamiland also expressed his displeasure with government’s suspicious decision to remove them from their communal lands.
“My ministry has identified fourteen drilled and three allocated boreholes that are in the proposed buffer zone area, which runs from the opposite central Kgalagadi game reserve to about 80kms west of Kuke gate,” Degraaf told parliament.
The minister revealed that beyond 80 km West of Kuke gate is a wildlife management area and to the East, the last farm is about 40 km East of Kuke gate and beyond this are wildlife farms all the way to Phefodiafhoka gate.
The livestock in this area, he further revealed, is about 7000 cattle; 300 sheep; 2200 goats; 300 donkeys and 300 horses.
“The affected farmers will be assisted to relocate to other vacant farms or boreholes,” he maintained, adding “it is highly unlikely that farmers will resettle around Lake Ngamiland and cause overgrazing.”
The minister was answering a supplementary question from Ngami MP Thabano Habano.