Botswana’s beef industry has come under renewed threats as Britain joins the bandwagon on banning imports of cloven-hoofed animals and their fresh products from Botswana.
The decision by Britain follows an outbreak of foot and mouth disease which was detected last month in Butale and surrounding villages in the North East District (Zone 6b).
Apart from Britain, Namibia announced recently that it has suspended imports of live animals and other related meat products after Botswana announced that it was investigating a suspected outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
According to Britain, it has suspended exports of fresh and by- products of ungulates from the whole of Botswana if they were processed after 28 July 2022.
“On Agust 2022, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) was confirmed in a previously FMD free region of Botswana. The extent of the disease outbreak is yet to be determined,” Britain said in a statement.
The statement says the suspension will remain in place until all necessary biosecurity checks have taken place and the current FMD outbreak is under control.
This has sparked fears that other Botswana’s biggest exporters such as the European Union (UN) and Norway could also impose an indefinite ban on Botswana’s beef exports and in the process hurt the country’s earnings from the United Kingdom.
Botswana recently imposed a countrywide movement standstill of all FMD susceptible animals (cloven-hoofed animals) and their raw products including their exports to other countries until further notice due to the suspicion of FMD outbreak in that country. It is not clear if countries which have imposed a ban would also lift it in the event that Botswana does.
Namibia’s Directorate of Veterinary Services Chief Veterinary Officer Albertina Shilongo said in a statement imports of all FMD susceptible animals, their raw products, and other potentially infectious materials such as straw, forage, lucerne, and other livestock feed from Botswana have been suspended with immediate effect and until further notice,
She said all previously issued Veterinary Import permits are hereby cancelled and re-called while IN transit of raw livestock products and livestock feed through Botswana intended for Namibia or IN transit Namibia is allowed provided that transporting vehicles are sealed in the respective exporting countries and the seals remain intact while conveying through Botswana, she said. Namibia currently imports cattle from Botswana to satisfy its beef market in Europe due to an insufficient supply of cattle for slaughter within the country.
Speaking at a recent Agriculture Food and Security conference, Assistant Minister of Agriculture Molebatsi Molebatsi said Botswana has a world class veterinary services underpinned by well-established regionalization (zonation system, WOAH (World Organisation of Animal Health) endorsed animal disease control programs.
Molebatsi said in spite of the foregoing outbreaks of animal and plant diseases continue to negatively affect livelihoods, the economy and food security.
“After a two-year respite, the country has confirmed an outbreak of FMD in Butale and surrounding villages in the North East District (Zone 6b) on the 24th August 2022,” he said.
He added that, “As a result, Zone 6b FMD free status has been suspended. Countrywide movement restriction has also been imposed, including suspension of exports and other important economic activities such as agriculture shows and animal auctions,” said Molebatsi.
He said while disease control measures in particular livestock products and movement restrictions have devastating impact on the economy, they are vital to controlling the outbreak and prevent its spread to other areas.