Wednesday, April 21, 2021

FMD outbreak to gobble P30 million from government coffers

The Botswana government is expected to spend at least P30 million in the fight against the recent outbreak of the notorious Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the Matsiloje Village area (Zone 6).
This is the second outbreak to hit the area after the 2002/03 outbreak.

The Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaff, told a Francistown special full council meeting on Thursday that about 50 cattle are estimated to be infected in six kraals falling within Matopi, Blue Jacket and Saenete crush areas in the Matsiloje area.

“P30 million will be used to provide bio-security, creation of the buffer zone area and also the logistical arrangements in the affected area,” said the minister.

He explained that veterinary staff, members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the Botswana Police Services as well as casual labourers have been deployed along the boundaries to control movement of cloven hoofed animals between the infected and non infected areas.

Among other strategies to fight the outbreak, the minister stated that several options, including the stamping out, vaccination and various other combinations were being considered to control the outbreak.

De Graaff added that government has decided on emergency vaccination followed by a strict supervised slaughter of all infected cattle through the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) plant in Francistown.

“Young animals less than six months old will be destroyed on the farms and owners will be compensated P1 500 per head,” said the minister.

De Graaff further said that for this strategy to work, it is vital that all cattle be fully vaccinated adding that at least two rounds of vaccination will be carried out until no further cases are observed.

He warned that the cattle that miss vaccination, stray cattle or cattle whose owners fail to take to BMC will be destroyed without compensation to the owners.

The Minister mentioned that the source of the outbreak is in areas along the north-eastern border, which is suspected to be a spill-over into Botswana primarily through the people who regularly handle animals in between neighbouring Zimbabwe and Botswana. He urged the councilors and the public to try and join hands in the fight against this scourge.

The last outbreak of FMD occurred in the same area in 2002 and 2003 of which about 16 000 cattle and 181 pigs were destroyed.

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