Thursday, July 7, 2022

Botswana mulls erecting buffer zone with Zimbabwe

The Ministry of Agriculture, in conjunction with their counterparts in Zimbabwe, is considering building a buffer zone to stamp out the Foot and Mouth Disease, troubling the country in the North East district.

The region bordering Zimbabwe has seen constant outbreaks of the disease for sometime now, with FMD virus strangely evidenced even in small stock animals.

“We hopefully would build the same. My ministry is in consultations with Zimbabwe authorities over the issue and, hopefully, will reach some conclusions,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaff, responding to the intervention by Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi.

Briefing parliament on Friday over the status of FMD in the district, De Graaff indicated that cattle in Zone 6 were cleansed of the disease, only for the virus to emerge on sheep and goats.

“The 2011 outbreak of FMD in cattle in Zone 6 was controlled by the establishment of FMD containment zone and stamping out policy (slaughtering) of over 47,000 cattle, leaving about 60, 000 small stock (sheep and goats) and wildlife,” revealed De Graaff, adding that “subsequent surveillance has demonstrated evidence of field virus infection in small stock”.

“This is an unusual development. Whilst sheep and goats are indeed naturally susceptible to FMD in our region, the trend has been that the infection in these species is usually transient and does not play an important role in the epidemiology of the disease,” noted De Graaff whose ministry is also embroiled in alleged misconduct of corruption and maladministration surrounding the closure of the Botswana Meat Commission.

The ministry, however, would not subject the small stock to the usual control measures of stamping out or vaccination when there are outbreaks of this disease.

With the presence of infection detected, restocking of cattle is to be delayed until the situation is under control during which period the ministry, after considering available options, decides to vaccinate small stock to control the disease.

“This will be followed by surveillance to inform the timing of restocking, which is anticipated to be done during the coming financial years from April 2013.”

“Arrangements are being made with the Zimbabwean veterinary officials to do surveillance in small stock in Zimbabwe along our common border.

Surveillance in wild animals is also ongoing to establish if there is evidence of the disease in the species and therefore ascertain their possible role in transmission of the infection,” said De Graaff.


Read this week's paper