Deputy Director in the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), who is also Project Coordinator of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Dr Kekgonne Baipoledi, recently revealed that the on-going livestock restocking exercise in FMD affected areas is very successful and is nearing completion.
Speaking during a press briefing in Francistown last week, Dr Baipoledi said that the restocking exercise which commenced last year currently stands at 99.8percent completion.
“We successfully completed cattle restocking in areas affected by FMD as the whole exercise currently stands at 99.8percent. We are only lagging behind with the restocking of dairy cattle and small stock. Government is currently sourcing the dairy cattle for restocking. One of our main challenges regarding small stock is that farmers are not coming forth to sell us the animals, but we are hopeful that we will complete the restocking of small stock before the end of July,” he said.
He further said they are left with 500 animals to complete the small stock re-stocking exercise. The livestock restocking exercise follows a wholesale depopulation of FMD infected cattle and goats by government in 2011 of over 60 000 animals in an endeavor to purge FMD infections which ravaged the zone six and zone seven areas.
Although the restocking exercise by government has been received with wrath from farmers who are complaining about the restocked animals dying in large numbers, Dr Baipoledi said Government is currently working around the clock to try and assist those farmers.
“Government is assessing the claims of those farmers whose re-stocked cattle died. We are also doing investigations to see what could have led to the death of the re-stocked animals,” he said.
He however acknowledged that the cattle re-stocking exercise has had its own challenges as some of the cattle died because they failed to adapt to the new environment.
“We had to keep the animals in similar environments before restocking for two months to try and help them adapt to their new environments. This itself was a challenge,” he said.
He also revealed that Government has abolished the killing of animals in affected areas to control FMD adding that in the future, these animals will be vaccinated. He said they have acquired a new advanced vaccine which will be used to vaccinate these animals.
“We cannot continue to kill these animals because it poses threats of extinction. Animals that are genetically adapted to certain areas might become extinct. We have a new advanced vaccine which we will use to vaccinate these animals instead of killing them,” Dr Baipoledi said.
Asked how much Government has spent in the fight against FMD and the restocking exercise, Dr Baipoledi said that they will only be able to avail the costs upon completion of the whole exercise.
In conclusion Dr Baipoledi said that after the re-stocking exercise, they will meet with stakeholders to discuss when the FMD affected zones would be allowed to slaughter animals for the European Union (EU) Market.