Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Farmers, govt fight over cancellation of agric fair

The decision by the Ministry of Agriculture to call off the Agricultural fair that was scheduled for next month, on the basis of the reported outbreak of the Rift Valley fever, was received with mixed feelings by the farming community.

Farmers argued at a briefing meeting this week that they were not consulted on the cancellation and nor were asked to provide alternatives.

Matshego Gobuamang, a farmer in the Kweneng District told Sunday Standard: “Look, if these people really genuinely thought it best to cancel the exhibition on the basis of the rift valley outbreak, they certainly had all the time to consult us and hear what we thought. Instead we were relegated to second place.”

Gobuamang pointed out that preparations were made well in time by May 2010, for the show.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Micus Chimbombi however argued the move was in good faith.

“We thought that given the importance of vaccinating the animals and the limited space of time between the outbreak and the exhibition dates it may not be wise to proceed while others might genuinely fear for infection of their animals from unrestricted movements,” argued Chimbombi.

“By May 2010, we had already registered our animals, and issues relating to categorisation of animals according to classes, awards and other factors that matter had been concluded, therefore it was already known who would be coming to exhibit,” contended Gobuamang.

On that basis, the Ministry knew they could actually mobilise the farmers within two days to inform them, but opted to take such a drastic decision without their input despite the fact that everybody was fully set for the event.

Gobuamang intimated that at least 50 percent of the farmers who had already registered that they will be coming for the show, phoned him immediately upon hearing the announcement about cancellation on the 15th July in bewilderment, to ask how much he knew.

He found it wanting that Government cites rift valley fever as the key reason for disallowing the exhibition when in fact there was sufficient evidence pointing to ongoing in and out movement, of animals from South Africa and Namibia, where the disease is known to have come.

“If we were to vaccinate from August 2 to September 10, that would make it the requisite 40 days for animals to be bought or move, therefore it would be practical to have the show on September 13th,”added the soft spoken but assertive Gobuamang.

Ralph Ferreira, a farmer at OPTI feed said: “This goes a long towards teaching the farming community of the folly of depending on Government to take the leading role.”

Although Government officials acknowledged the movement of animals from Namibia and South Africa, they indicated that South Africa has banned the movement of animals from Zone 11, which is an area that covers Molepolole, Mochudi Ramotswa and Lobatse.

DVS is has procured at 100 000 doses for vaccination in the southern region of the country, while the other parts of the country remain in the mercies of the Gods.

Government argues that it is an international standard that in the advent of outbreaks such as the rift valley fever, the movement of animals should be restricted to avoid unnecessary spread of diseases.


Read this week's paper