By Patience Radisoeng
The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security on Thursday banned the importation of live cloven-hoofed animals and their products from South Africa (SA) with immediate effect until further notice following the detection of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the northern district of the Limpopo Province.
The Ministry urges farmers who may have recently imported cloven hoofed livestock from SA to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious signs of FMD to the nearest veterinary office of the Department of Veterinary.
The department also urges the general public and the farming community living near SA borders to prevent their livestock from straying into the neighbouring republic to reduce contact and spread of the disease.
”The control of foot and mouth disease involves the implementation of trade restrictions. Consequently, all imports that had been issued before 09-01-2019 and not used are hereby cancelled. In line with the Animal Health Act CAP 10:01, the issuance of permits is a mandatory requirement for the importation of all animal products. Any import application will now be considered on a case by case basis depending on the risk,” part of the statement from the ministry reads.
Media reports say Botswana government has become the second country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to issue a ban on the importation of cloven-hoofed animals’ meat from SA, Namibia being the first to react to the issue on Monday.
Furthermore, the Director of Veterinary Services, Letlhogile Modisa, said the importation of veldt grasses, bedding and animal manure, contaminated products and vehicles are also not allowed.
The ban could have a serious impact on meat consumption in southern African countries notably Zimbabwe which relies heavily on imports of cloven-hoofed animals from South Africa.
FMD causes lesions and lameness in cattle and sheep. South Africa has since reported the outbreak of the highly contagious disease to the World Organisation for Animal Health and that South Africa’s official FMD-free status had been temporarily suspended.
“We have quickly quarantined the area, so it does not affect the commercial livestock farming which will pose a danger to us as consumers and the export business,” Reuters reported South Africa’s Agriculture Department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana as having said.
Meanwhile FMD has been one of the major threats to the livestock sector over the years. Incidences of the diseases within the green zone occurred in 2007 in Ngamiland, in 2011 in the North and Central districts and again in 2013 and 2017 in Ngamiland.
But later on a report from the World Organisation for Animal Health General Assembly in May 2017 approved Government’s application for the recognition of the zone as FMD free without vaccination after many decades of absence of the disease in zone 3B, which is in the Nata area.