Monday, January 18, 2021

Gov’t nets P50m from FMD cattle exports to Zimbabwe

Botswana government has generated at least US$7 612 000 (about P49 million) from the sale of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) cattle to the Cold Storage Commission of Zimbabwe.

Briefing a parliamentary caucus Tuesday, Acting Minister of Agriculture, Keletso Rakhudu, said total revenue generated from cattle exports to Zimbabwe amounted to US$7 612 000 out of 25 374 cattle.

Zimbabwe, however, still owes Botswana US$338 700 (approximately P2.2 million) for 1129 cattle.
Following the outbreak of FMD in Zone 6 (Matsiloje area of the North East District) last April, government sealed a deal with the Cold Storage Commission of Zimbabwe for the sale of FMD infected cattle that were considered suitable for human consumption on the back of insufficient absorption capacity at the Botswana Meat Commission.

Rakhudu told the legislators that the country experienced FMD outbreaks in the Matsiloje Extension area veterinary disease control Zone in April 2011 and in Bobirwa sub-district in May 2011. The Matsiloje and Bobirwa outbreaks were spillovers from Zimbabwe.

FMD cases were also reported in Ngamiland (Zone 2) in September last year and the outbreak came from the buffalo.

In Zone 6, an FMD containment zone was established to separate the affected areas from the rest of the zone. The containment zone was approved by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in September 2011, thus releasing the rest of the country to become green again.

The acting minister said all cattle in the containment zone were vaccinated and later removed by export to Zimbabwe for slaughter or killed and buried. 47 578 cattle have been killed or exported to date and the last clinical case was seen in July 2011.

An application will be made to the OIE three to six months after removal of the last animal from the containment zone, according to Rakhudu, who added that the last animal was killed in January 2012.

Following the outbreak, farmers were compensated P1700 per animal and are entitled to claim back the first 10 animals as cattle and the balance is compensated at a ratio of 70 percent cash and 30 percent beast.

“So far 45 288 animals have been compensated for in cash out of the 47 578 animals killed. Revenue generated from export of cattle to Zimbabwe is US$7 612 000 (25 374 cattle). Outstanding payment is US$ 338 700 (1129 cattle),” said Rakhudu.

He added that Botswana is collaborating with Zimbabwe along the common border to control FMD and since August 2011 government has contributed vaccine, vehicles and personnel in vaccination of cattle in the northern neighbour.

In Bobirwa, the disease was controlled by a combination of stamping out and vaccination while a total of 5 588 cattle were destroyed and disposed of by burial and the last case was seen September 2011.

Two rounds of vaccination with the purified vaccine have been carried out so far and vaccination will be done every three to five months until it is ascertained that the virus is no longer circulating in the herd whereupon a decision will be made to stop vaccinating and start the process of reinstatement of FMD freedom without vaccination status.

Cumulatively 5 056 cattle have been compensated for. A total of 348 out of 353 farmers have collected their cheques or payment vouchers according to the acting minister.

In Ngamiland, the disease is controlled by vaccination and movement control and an FMD protection Zone is being established to assist in movement control and protecting neighbouring FMD free zones from incursions of the disease. Construction of the protection zone fence commenced in January.

Following the outbreak of FMD, President Ian Khama appointed a task force of ministers to develop a long term FMD control strategy which recommended among other things, a review and strengthening of Botswana/Zimbabwe collaboration on transboundary disease control of FMD as well as increased farmers’ participation and responsibility in prevention, control and mitigation.

The task force also recommended the establishment of a fund for control of animal diseases of national importance based on the socio-economic and environmental implications.

While it has been the practice to kill infected animals, the task force recommended that stamping out is not a preferred option except in exceptional cases and advocated for vaccination as a long term strategy.

The task force also recommended the establishment of a multi sectoral integrated FMD control plan with elephant management as a component.

In conclusion, Rakhudu told the legislators that live export of cattle from Ngamiland (Zones 2a, 2b and 2c) started in October 2011 and to date over 9 700 cattle have been ferried to the Cold Storage Commission of Zimbabwe.

He noted that the exercise faced a number of challenges, including farmers’ reluctance to sell their animals to BMC as well as dilapidated infrastructure at holding grounds.

“However, we are in the process of rehabilitating the infrastructure so that we may double our sales to Zimbabwe. In addition, BMC will be buying breeding stock for sale to Angola as part of our plan to reduce overstocking in Ngamiland,” he said.

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