The Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) scourge that has already wrecked havoc on cattle farmers in Matsiloje area in the North East District is spreading ever more rapidly as another announcement of the outbreak was issued in Matshelagabedi on Monday.
The Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Oreeditse Molebatsi, had to convene an emergency meeting to reveal the outbreak of the disease to the villagers, saying that the veterinary department recently diagnosed 75 cattle from the kraals in the village, which was initially considered a buffer zone area.
“The escalating foot and mouth disease infections are a concern and it is disappointing to note that Matshelagabedi, which was considered a buffer zone area, has also been affected,” he added.
┬áMolebatsi went on to tell the villagers that it is very disturbing to note that Batswana, being passionate cattle farmers, are losing their cattle to the disease, which will result in a lot of farmers dwelling in abject poverty should it not be controlled in time.
He told the residents that the continuous outbreak of the disease is caused by some negligent people and criminals who smuggle infected cattle through the buffer zone areas and called for a unity of the public with government to fight the problem.
He reminded the villagers that early this year the European Union (EU) markets had to suspend beef exports from the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) from entering their countries, blaming the country’s beef on poor quality management, which had a negative impact on the country’s economy. He added that the situation of the rapid escalation of the disease might add another death blow to the country’s beef exports to overseas markets should the situation not be purged.
“I need to also remind you that we need to stem out this disease before it ruins our beef markets overseas and you should also realize that Botswana is competing with giant beef producers like Argentina to sell beef to the European Markets,” Molebatsi told the villagers.
He begged the villagers to each take responsibility to help government fight the situation.
For years the Matsiloje and Matshelagabedi areas have continuously been terrorized by FMD, which is believed to be emanating from neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Ever since the outbreak of the disease in April this year, about 21 000 cattle were infected and slaughtered in Matsiloje area alone.
Due to the disturbing rapid increase of infections, the government is expected to fork out┬ámillions of pula from its coffers to mitigate the growing situation.