Farmers say in Ngamiland say it is not fair for government to expect them to find alternative outside markets for their cattle, while that arrangement should be done on their behalf as they believe there are people who are better placed to do so.
Most were opposed to the idea, claiming the arrangement will not take them anywhere as it might also turn out to be a very long process.
This was said by Dr Keorapetse Sehularo, the retired Chief Veterinary Officer at the Department of Animal Health, who said officials from the Ministry of Agriculture have a better understanding of trade protocols and so should hold the fort. He said because they already have bilateral agreements with other countries, they should do that as it wouldn’t make sense to expect a layman to negotiate better while there are people out there who are equipped with all the skills and knowledge of how to handle the matter in the most appropriate way.
Farmers also complained that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Marcus Chimbombi, should be shown the importance of always availing himself at meetings, particularly when he is expected and when sensitive subjects are discussed as his input is believed to be vital.
On two occasions in a row, Chimbombi is said to have not shown up, and, instead, always preferred to send his subordinates, who are in most cases not able to respond as he would have. His last visit was at the beginning of the year when a heated debate on the Foot and Mouth issue between himself and a group of irate farmers erupted. Farmers felt that, so far, they have not seen any change, despite the many meetings where responses are always very weak and not helping the current situation.
“I have a feeling that you people should show seriousness in the way you handle this Foot and Mouth issue as it is not only a concern to Ngamiland people, but a country wide problem,” said Sehularo. “First the meeting started very late as we were made to believe we were waiting for the Permanent Secretary to address us, and now without any explanation, we are told to proceed as if this is normal procedure. We need not be undermined as we are dealing with a very serious issue here.”
Meanwhile, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Moetapele Letshwenyo, who was also in attendance told farmers that the FMD situation has since improved even though sporadic cases are still being recorded and most are isolated and few in number.
Nevertheless, he still complained about the influx of cattle, whose numbers are growing by the day, into the Okavango Delta, saying the government has awarded Ngamiland a 35 percent subsidy on certain items to mitigate drought as farmers here have not been able to sell for sometimes now.
“As a remedial measure, the government has decided to destroy all affected small stock after FMD was detected in containment zones. We will also continue with the vaccination of purified vaccine as it has yielded good outcomes. I am also glad to say since August 2011, we have never recorded any new cases of FMD even though there are threats from neighboring Limpopo in South Africa and Caprivi Strip in Namibia. The Ministry of Agriculture will also improve vaccination efficiency so that it has visible impact, but this can only be achieved if we join hands with yourselves to come up with vaccination schedules during vaccination campaigns and avail your cattle. I am also very happy that a lot of you have shown willingness to participate in all campaigns and have always offered a helping hand.”