Monday, March 4, 2024

Cattle farmers optimistic ahead of EU audit

The Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU) have indicated that they have no doubt that Botswana farmers will continue supplying the European Union (EU) market with beef after the highly anticipated audit this month.

A delegation of EU is expected to review how Botswana is managing to detect and control foot and mouth disease.

BNBPU Spokesperson Andrew Seeletso told this publication that farmers are always cooperating by ensuring that protocols around foot and mouth disease are observed.

“What we should understand is that EU is always visiting and I want to believe that the Department of Veterinary Services are aware of what they want,” said Seeletso.

He stated that after the recent outbreak of foot and mouth in the 6b zone, there was continuous engagements between Botswana and EU.

“We want to believe that this upcoming exercise will give Botswana an opportunity to now show EU in practical terms how the disease was managed because you will understand that Botswana respects international laws and standards,” he said.

Seeletso added that EU holds Botswana in high regard adding that this should serve as an opportunity to local farmers to maximize.

“We should maintain the EU standards because that is what qualifies us to sell to other markets,” said Seeletso.

EU last carried out a similar audit in 2015 where a series of recommendations were made.

Director in the Department of Veterinary Services Dr Kefentse Motshegwa also shared that even though this will be a normal procedure conducted by EU, its outcome has the potential to stop trade between the two parties.

“All countries trading with EU are audited for various areas and in this particular case EU will audit our cattle on foot and mouth controls given that we are constantly troubled by this disease. They will be checking whether or not we are following all the set standards,” said Motshegwa.

He added that government has over the years appealed to farmers to brand and tag their cattle in order to comply with the standards.

“They will be checking whether or not we continuously put measures in place in the event of FMD outbreak and also to understand why we often have this disease,” he said.

Motshegwa highlighted that there is always a threat whenever there is lapse or non-compliance from local cattle farmers adding that persisting FMD outbreaks could spoil trading relations between EU and Botswana.

“In most audits there are always deficiencies but they will make recommendations and their response can be to end trading relations, but normally there is an engagement to see how best the issue can be addressed,” said Motshegwa.

In their last assessment, EU recommended that there should be monitoring of ear tags and that farmers should record their cattle movement.

“They will also travel to areas like Ngamiland to ascertain whether indeed we are not substituting beef from FMD free areas with that of Ngamiland, so they want to see traceability and illegal movements,” stated Motshegwa.

Motshegwa indicated that the persisting outbreaks of FMD are never good for the country adding that they will also travel to Zone 6b areas to establish whether indeed measures have been put in place.

“They will be checking our documentation and you will recall that when we reported that we have managed to contain the outbreak of FMD in the zone 6b areas they did not come to inspect but took our word for it,” he said.

Government recently said the process of depopulation would take place within two months depending on logistics. It was confirmed that besides cattle, no other four legged animal had been detected with FMD.

“Even though we have assurance that the disease is now under control, it does not eliminate the possibilities of it spreading, which is why the control staff will continue with its duties,” said Motshegwa.

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