Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Illegal cattle branding threatens Ngamiland’s fight against FMD

MAUN – With the obvious unavailability of cattle and beef markets in Maun and surrounding areas, some farmers have reportedly been doing the least imaginable of things by illegally branding their cattle and putting them up for sale and possible slaughter at Maun BMC. 

The illegal act is said to be threatening to wreck even more, the already ailing market of beef and cattle from Foot and Mouth (FMD) infested areas. The revelation was made by Dr Wave Kashweka of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) in an interview with Sunday Standard on the sidelines of the just ended Maun Administrative Authority sub council meeting. 

Kashweka noted that the department has on numerous occasions came across and dealt with similar cases whereby cattle from red zones are illegally branded with the same brand used by DVS on cattle considered free of FMD, later  at which they are relocated to green zones for them to be sold at Maun BMC. But because the DVS have their own technical way of branding and changing inscription from time to time, Kashweka said it has always been easy for them t o spot illegally branded cattle. Some of these cattle, he said are either spotted on arrival at either Maun BMC or Ngamiland abattoir because it is there that they go through a re-checking process before slaughter. He said “We usually interrogate these devious farmers and end up not providing service whenever we come across such occurrences. This on its own is very risky because chances are that cattle end up infecting others and along the process also contaminate the whole area. They need to understand that what they are doing is fraud and therefore also causing too much harm and unnecessary delays. Unfortunately there is no law in the Act which stipulates how they should be punished, which is why we want to suggest that the current Act be amended.” 

At a meeting with farmers just recently, Minister for Agricultural Development and Food Security Patrick Ralotsia stressed the need for farmers to have their cattle vaccinated from time to time so that the district might be free of FMD.He said at the meeting that potential international customers should be reassured that the district is free from the disease, adding that this might lead also lead to a possibility of the opening of foreign markets. Should this behavior by farmers continue, Kashweka said there is a likelihood of the Maun BMC abattoir not operating as anticipated or even forced to close shop just because of a few uncooperative people. “Farmers should meet us halfway instead of worsening the situation. As it stands now, we have a serious challenge convincing customers to trust us with cattle from here. And so this is quite a drawback because now we appear to be fighting a losing battle”, he said.


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