Sunday, January 29, 2023

Gov’t bows to North-east farmers’ demands over compensation

Government has acceded to pressure from North East farmers to increase their compensation rate from the initial P2 480 to P3000.

This comes after Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU) petitioned government over the proposed rate saying that it is not enough.

BNBPU Spokesperson Andrew Seeletso stated that the new developments have been widely welcomed by cattle farmers adding that they had in fact proposed a lesser amount than what government has offered.

“The farmers are excited and I am sure that they were not even expecting government to be this considerate but all in all we had requested government to review the P2 480 rate and it was gladly done. I want to believe that this has come at the right time when farmers were asking themselves about the future of cattle farming in the area and they were given another boost when government announced that all finances accrued from slaughter of their cattle will be paid into their account, meaning that only transport fare will be deducted,” said Seeletso.

He said they are in continuous engagement with farmers to cooperate and ensure that the disease does not spread as government has intensified efforts to establish the extent of the disease and design a way forward.

“It is difficult of course for the farmers but I must say that there is great cooperation between officials and farmers because no one wants to see themselves in such a situation, we all want to enjoy the fruits of cattle farming and I am pleased because farmers also share the same viewpoint,” he said.

In the aftermath of FMD, a decision was taken that all cattle within the affected area should be sold to abattoirs for local consumption.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi told a kgotla meeting in Senyawe this week that in addition, the bulk of the proceeds accrued from the sale of meat would be given back to the farmers.

“Government will only take money for the expenses that will be incurred to transport cattle from affected areas to the abattoir,” he said.

Masisi said the decision to rid the area of cattle was primarily meant to maintain its green zone status and save the country’s cattle industry which had been brought to its knees by the long term effects of the disease.

In August, government stated that foot and mouth disease has been confirmed in Butale village and surrounding villages within the zone 6b in the north east district.

It is not the first time that north east district has had a scare of foot and mouth as a similar case happened in 2010.

In August 2001, an outbreak in the Plumtree sub-district eventually spilled over into Botswana in February 2002, resulting in the Matsiloje outbreak. Similarly, in 2003 and 2006, FMD outbreaks at Matopi and Bobirwa respectively were spillovers from Zimbabwe. Botswana is vulnerable to FMD from Zimbabwe because of factors such as the short distance between the place of the outbreak and the border, continuous damage to the cordon fence along the border by people and elephants and cross-border stocktheft.

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