The detection of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in small stock (goats and sheep) has triggered fears among farmers that government could be losing its fight against the notorious disease.
The farmers’ fears are compounded by persistent outbreaks of the disease in some parts of the country, especially Ngamiland and Chobe regions, Zone 6 in the North East District and Zone 7 in Bobirwa and Mmadinare areas in the Central District.
The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) in the Ministry of Agriculture has, however, allayed fears that government could be fighting a losing battle against the notorious disease.
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, DVS director, Dr Letlhogile Modisa, maintains that “Botswana is not losing the fight against Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), but in fact, we are winning and we have no other choice.
“We have over the years implemented the World Animal Health Organization’s progressive pathway (PCP) as Botswana and by so doing have managed to free a lot of Botswana territory as free from FMD without vaccination. 75 percent of the cattle producing areas are in the free areas with only cattle in Ngamiland and Chobe in the vaccinated zones and the temporary status in Zone 7 in Bobirwa and Mmadinare areas”.
Against FMD recurrence in Zone 6 (2002 and 2011) and the subsequent strange spread of the disease to small stock away from the normal cattle infection, at a recent FMD leadership and stakeholders’ seminar in Francistown, Joel Mpetsane of Matsiloje wondered whether government possessed sufficient expertise to fight the disease.
“Is expertise in your ministry adequate? Has purified vaccine failed? It looks like it has failed. Perhaps you need to source expertise from outside,” Mpetsane told agriculture minister Christian De Graaff and his lieutenants after the latter had revealed that government was in the process of killing 30 000 small stock infected with FMD in the areas of Matshelagabedi, Matsiloje, Matopi, Patayamatebele and Ditladi in order to curb the disease from spreading to other areas.