Flooding in the Okavango Delta has left most of the buffalo fence, which separates buffalos from cattle herds, submerged in water and posing a risk of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in Ngamiland.
Okavango Research Institute’s Professor Joseph Mbaiwa views the flooding that has submerged the buffalo fence as an additional burden to farmers who have been hard hit by FMD in the past.
Mbaiwa explained in an interview that farmers will always be on the losing side because the fences that were separating the buffalo herds from cattle have been inefficient even when there was no flooding.
According to Mbaiwa, the flooding will be a burden to existing inefficient remedies, such as buffalo fence, which was not adequately maintained.
He pointed out that the FMD will continue to be a menace to farmers if policy and lawmakers continue to be part of investors in the tourism sector.
He dismissed that a remedy will never come forward for the benefit of famers in Ngamiland who rely on farming for their livelihood if the “Big Shots” are still taking part in tourism. He stated that “Big Shot” interests supersede the farmers’ interests who have scars of the FMD outbreak that swept cattle in Ngamiland.
“As long as the government has taken a decision to promote the tourism industry, farmers will always be on the losing side. They are no prospects of farmers in Ngamiland to sell their cattle in the European market if the government effort to curb the outbreak of FMD in the area is still ineffective. Farming will continue to have ups and downs,” added Mbaiwa.
He said that buffalo herds which are carriers of FMD were always crossing the fence, resulting in cattle contracting FMD.
He stated that the flooding is expected to put more burdens on farmers in Ngamiland.
Quizzed on why farmers were not selling their cattle and investing in the tourism sector, Mbaiwa noted that there are no opportunities for farmers in the tourism sector.
He explained that prime areas in the Okavango have already been occupied.
“Those companies have leased concession areas for years. What is left is only marginal areas that are not attractive to tourists. Farmers will not make it even when they sell their cattle and try to invest in the tourism sector,” he said.
The Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaff stated in an interview that mass flooding had submerged the buffalo fence which separates buffalos from cattle herds in the delta.
De Graaff stated that the situation heightens the possibility of FMD outbreak, adding that even veterinary officers are unable to access some areas to maintain the fences because of flooding.
The Minister noted that the government intends to vaccinate cattle in the area three times to deter the outbreak of FMD in Ngamiland.
He said that the vaccination is expected to address a possibility of outbreak because buffalos are able to move freely after the buffalo fence was submerged.
By : Calistus Bosaletswe - 2012-08-09 13:57:12