The Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graff, has told Francistown City Council that the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in southern Zimbabwe is threatening Botswana’s beef industry.
He said Botswana abattoirs, especially the export market, are at high risk.
“The outbreak of FMD in southern Zimbabwe has a history of spilling over into Botswana,” said De Graff.
FMD outbreak has been reported in Plumtree in Matebeleland, which borders Botswana.
FMD outbreaks in 2002, 2003 and 2006 in Zimbabwe always affected Botswana.
“Botswana is vulnerable to the outbreak because of her proximity to Zimbabwe,” said De Graaf.
Unmaintained border breaches and damaged cordon fences also increase the risks of spill over.
De Graaf said the presence of buffaloes among livestock areas in Zimbabwe may also heighten the spread of the disease because buffaloes are also major carriers of the disease.
“FMD may affect Botswana’s beef industry and result in huge financial losses to the nation and to individual farmers,” he said.
The minister assured councilors that government has taken measures to address the problem through public education campaigns. Government has also intensified restriction of movement of cloven hoofed animals and their fresh products from Zimbabwe into Botswana.
“We will also intensify border patrols, border inspections and disinfection points,” he announced.
A 10 km buffer zone has also been established along the Botswana-Zimbabwe border.