Zones Six and Seven Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Coordinator, Dr Moetapele Letshwenyo, says the cattle depopulation and farmers’ compensation exercise is on course.
He said this at a press conference in Francistown where he explained that farmers had already surrendered 43 280 cattle to government among which 26 088 were repatriated to Zimbabwe on sale to the Cold Storage Commission in Bulawayo while 17 039 were killed locally and buried.
The over 43 000 cattle surrendered to government represent about 96 percent of the work completed in the eradication exercise according to Letshwenyo who added that 60 percent of the cattle were repatriated to Zimbabwe while 40 percent represented the percentage of cattle killed.
The coordinator also explained that Zimbabwe had honoured its payments in terms of the agreement regarding the sale of the FMD cattle to its commission, an equivalent of the Botswana Meat Commission Abattoir.
Under the deal, Zimbabwe is paying US$300 per head while government is compensating the farmers at a rate of P1700 per head in addition to the first 10 cattle that are replaced in the upcoming restocking exercise.
There is also an additional 30 percent restocking for those farmers whose cattle exceeded 10 while the remainder of 70 percent is payment in monetary compensation.
Government has also been collaborating with commercial banks, especially Botswana Savings Bank to give financial counseling to the affected farmers as well as opening bank accounts for them.
Letshwenyo said they had contained the disease in Zone Six east of the railway line and had subsequently applied to the World Organisation for Animal Health for clearance so that adjacent areas are cleared to sell to the Botswana Meat Commission. To this extent the BMC Francistown has this week reopened for slaughter.
“Containment has to go on. We are not out of the woods yet,” said Letshwenyo, adding that some goats have been diagnosed with the FMD infection and are being vaccinated.
As for Zone 7 where about 2000 cattle were diagnosed with infection in the Robelela area, Letshwenyo said the cattle continue to be vaccinated with the purified vaccine while surveillance is also ongoing.
With regard to compensation, he said they received 2 810 files from Zone Six and 384 files from Zone Seven and continue to pay farmers at the kgotlas in their respective villages as well as their duty station at Ntshe House in Francistown.
So far, 754 payments have been processed for Zone Six while 316 have been processed for Zone Seven, thus representing 43 percent of the work load. 244 farmers have already been paid in Zone Six while 219 have been paid in Zone 7 representing 34 percent of the files so far processed.
Restocking is expected to commence next year around April and May after the completion of the disease eradication exercise.