The Minister of Agriculture, Christian Degraaf said that maintaining veterinary cordon fences in recent times has been a challenge and has led to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday this week, Degraaf said that in the last three years access to many sections of the buffalo fence were made difficult if not impossible by the unprecedented flooding of the Okavango. “Wildlife, especially elephants also trample down the fence rendering it ineffective against separating buffalo which are the carriers of the Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) from livestock,” Degraaf said. He added that the problem led to the outbreak of the dreaded FMD, which has cost farmers a lot of money in recent years.
Degraaf was responding to a question by an Okavango Member of Parliament, Bagalatia Arone. The young Legislator had asked the Minister if he was aware that the buffalo fences in the whole of Okavango were non-existent. He further asked the Minister to state what would make communities believe that his Ministry was serious in its effort to combat the situation.
Degraaf assured Arone that his Ministry was committed to controlling FMD in the Northwest District despite the challenges. He said one of the efforts was evidenced by the disease control infrastructures such as construction and maintenance of cordon fences, vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance.
“In addition, we re-opened Maun BMC abattoir as a way of slaughtering cattle in the area to produce beef which can be safely traded locally and internationally. There has even been effort through bilateral trade agreements to sell live cattle to neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe,” Degraaf contended.
He further explained that the Okavango area, that is zone 2a and b, has specifically benefited from the infrastructural effort, as there had been no outbreak of the FMD since 2008 in Mohembo West.“Farmers in the area have sold cattle to the Maun BMC abattoir and exported some to Zimbabwe,” Degraaf further stated.