Sunday, December 5, 2021

Local farmers find silver lining in SA’s FMD outbreak

Local farmers have welcomed government decision to ban the importation of cloven-hoofed animals and their products from South Africa.

The government’s decision comes after tests were carried out on cattle with suspicious lesions at a communal location in Mtumatuba in Kwazulu Natal province. 

Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU) Spokesperson Andrew Seeletso said the temporary ban will strengthen the local supply especially of bulls.

“Botswana has done much more than South Africa and other countries in terms of disease and that is why we are able to supply the European Union and they cannot even though their cattle industry is more developed”

”We need to triple efforts to self sufficiency in Agriculture production” added Seeletso.

He further said although the country is still far behind in terms of genetics, there are good indications that Batswana are now taking it seriously given the quality of animals in auctions over the years now.

“We are still importing things like sausages and canned beef but with time, we will have a vibrant beef sector where now we will be able to have all products sourced locally”

He stated that a well functional industry and the Botswana Meat Commission will attract more investment and innovation which will boost production and ultimately self-sufficiency in certain areas.

“It must however be noted that cattle production is a dynamic area and we will always need outside influences and technologies to keep improving” added Seeletso

The site of the outbreak is in an area that was part of the FMD-free zone prior to the suspension of this internationally recognised status by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in 2019, the department said.

The OIE notes that FMD is a highly contagious viral disease which if allowed to spread can have devastating effects.

FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, with significant economic impact if it is allowed to spread.

It is not the first time that government has taken a decision to ban the importation of cloven-hoofed animals from South Africa.

In 2019, government banned the importation of beef products after the highly contagious disease was first detected in the Limpopo province.

It was later announced that meat products transiting through South Africa with valid import and in transit permits would be allowed to pass through Botswana.

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