Two newly-manufactured and improved Foot and Mouth Disease vaccines are now in use in the Ngamiland District. The district is prone to recurring incidents of FMD.
“The two are purified FMD vaccines and the Ngamiland FMD vaccine which contains the virus strain adapted from the current Ngamiland outbreaks,” said assistant minister Oreeditse Molebatsi.
While the purified vaccine is best used where the FMD control will lead to freedom from FMD, with or without vaccination, it can also be considered in the case of the protection zone once completed.
The Ngamiland FMD vaccine is used to control the outbreaks because the vaccine matches the virus strain circulating in Ngamiland.
“The purified vaccine was first used in Botswana last year in Zone 7’s FMD outbreak control. This was to enable the possible differentiation of FMD vaccinated cattle from infected cattle,” Molebatsi told the just ended parliament, adding that the availability of purified vaccine makes it possible for building emergency vaccine banks for use in future outbreaks in the green zones in the region.
Predominantly pastoral, Ngamiland farmers time and again found themselves bearing the brunt of the government’s decision to protect wild animals for the tourism sector.
A significant contributor to Botswana’s income revenues, the tourism sector is considered another viable option for the diversification of the economy, outside the diamond industry.
Wildlife, and in particular buffalo flocks, continue to thwart the beef industry as the FMD virus-carrying animals mix with cattle, transmitting the contagious disease.
The government is in a dilemma to secure the livelihoods of the farmers and the beef industry while at the same time safeguarding the tourism sector across the country.