Sunday, May 29, 2022

MoA dispels fears of further FMD spread into Zone Seven

Francistown Veterinary Services Department officials have dispelled fears of a spillage of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak into Zone 7 despite the discovery of more suspected cases of infections along the Zone 6 and 7 borders.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Dr Waweru Muchina confirmed that more cases had been detected at Masunga and Moiteela kraals along the border of Zone 7 in the Shashe River area.

“There is no fear of spillage into Zone 7 at the moment because of the limited movement of people between the two areas. ┬áWe have been able to contain the spread of the disease within Zone 6 despite spillages into Madiba and Morotole crushes. The animals have been separated and there is no imminent threat of spillage into Zone 7,” said Dr Muchina.

Addressing a kgotla meeting in Matsiloje on Friday, Tati East Member of Parliament, Samson Moyo Guma, told the farmers that the Minister of Agriculture, Christiaan De Graaff, has submitted their proposals to President Ian Khama, following a meeting the minister held with the sent delegation.

Among the proposals by the farmers to the minister is that the killing of non affected animals be lifted from younger than six months to one year old and the increasing of the compensation from P1500 per head to P2000.

Guma said the minister informed him that he had taken the proposals to the president who is still considering them, especially the issue of compensation.

The MP added that they requested that trials be conducted in the whole of Zone 6 so that an appropriate strategy can be devised to contain the outbreak of the epidemic.

Guma expressed his concern that some castle rustlers still smuggled cattle from Zimbabwe into Botswana thereby increasing the risk of the spread of the disease into non-affected area.

Guma said he had been to Zimbabwe where he met the health officials who were not aware of the new outbreak in Botswana and that the biggest problem is that in Zimbabwe the cattle are vaccinated and not culled as is the case in Botswana.

“The problem with Zimbabwe is that it is not exporting beef to the outside markets like us. There has to be dialogue between Botswana authorities and our Zimbabwean counterparts because we cannot manage to control the fight against FMD without their participation. Illegal crossing of people is another major problem. Movement of cattle from affected areas to non-affected areas is another problem, which needs to be contained,” said the legislator.

He reckoned that at the moment there was no permanent solution to the problem but encouraged all stakeholders to come together and forge a permanent solution.

The legislator said the minister has promised to come back to the farmers and he could therefore not preempt what the minister would say but was hopeful that cabinet would accede to most of their proposals, adding that restocking would be considered once the disease has been eradicated.
He feared that if the whole are is affected, BMC would be seriously challenged because government has decided to vaccinate all the cattle (about 60 000 to 70 000) twice, before they are sold to the Francistown abattoir plant.

“If the supply at the BMC increases, the market price might fall. BMC will also be challenged with the issues of storage. In the meantime vaccination will continue as decided. The best we can do now is to cooperate with the veterinary officers to ensure that the disease is not allowed to spread into non-affected areas,” said Guma.

He also bemoaned that some people were already smuggling young animals into the affected areas so that they can get compensation as set by government.

Another speaker at the meeting, Mothibedi Lephalo, said the problem of FMD is from around the Dikgathong area to Ramokgwebana River and it was necessary for the farmers to meet with the veterinary officers and forge a way forward before the disease spread to most of the areas within Zone 6.

Paul Mogapi said he was concerned that this is the second outbreak in Zone 6 and that the current outbreak seemed to be more devastating than the previous one. He wondered where the infected cattle came from.

Lucas Sereetsi was concerned that when their goats strayed into Zimbabwe and back into Botswana, they were killed while goats from Zimbabwe that strayed into Botswana were not killed.

Andreas Ncube attacked Btv for televising De Graaff’s meeting at the Francistown Town Council and Masunga while it did not televise the Matsiloje footage where there is an outbreak. He also wondered why De Graaff went to Francistown and Masunga before coming to Matsiloje to meet the affected farmers.

In reply Guma requested the farmers to be patient and wait for government response on their proposals, maintaining that he expected the minister to address another meeting at Matsiloje this week.

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