Following the recent incursion and ultimate killing of a buffalo in Kanye by wildlife and police officials, investigations have started in order to establish whether the African bull buffalo which is a carrier of FMD virus, had any traces of Foot and Mouth Disease.
If it so happens that the buffalo has, in fact, traces of foot and mouth, the consequences to the economy are likely to be ernomous since the BMC Lobatse plant is the only British Retail Consortium (BRC) A-graded facility in Africa exporting to the lucrative European Market.
On the backdrop of subdued diamond sales and reduced SACU revenues, Public Finance expert and University of Botswana Professor, Emmanuel Botlhale, told this publication that the potential trace of Foot and Mouth (FMD) disease will have serious budget implications to Botswana.
Although Government has not yet released the results of tests, theyhave since moved to restrict the movement of cloven-hoofed animals to prevent a possible FMD outbreak.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Professor Botlhale, is of the view that if investigations show positive traces of the FMD virus, which potentially might have been transmitted to domestic animals, the country will be forced to discontinue beef exports to the EU market. According to Botlhale, this will result in less foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Commenting on the sales of Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), Botlhale cautioned that a possible outbreak could further cripple the embattled parastatal since it is already having cash flow problems. On the contribution that the beef industry makes to the country’s GDP, he said the share of the non-mining sector, which includes the beef industry, is not significant against that made by the mining sector.
Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) Spokesperson Brian Dioka last week said, “Our closure of the BMC Lobatse-Production Line will last as long as beef-cattle trade restrictions are imposed on zone 11.” He further said that BMC is aware of the inconveniences caused by this situation, adding that it is calling on fellow compatriots to practice restraint, and give government and allied stakeholders, the space and time to conclude investigations without raising any undue panic.