Local farmers and the Government are breathing a sigh of relief from the economically crippling Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) that rendered infected produce unfit for the European Market.
This was said by the Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia at the just ended Serowe District Show.
Central District agricultural show was held under the theme ‘Commercialization of Agriculture’, which the Minister said was appropriate as it is consistent with the first pillar of the National Vision 2036.
Through the pillar, Botswana aspires to have a sustainable, technology-driven and commercially viable agricultural sector.
Minister Ralotsia said that the FMD is a major challenge to government’s efforts to turn the beef industry into a viable, competitive and profitable undertaking.
He, however, noted that things were looking up as Zone 3b (Nata/ Gweta area) was officially granted FMD free-without vaccination status by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in 2017.
“It is a serious concern that, in spite of their official FMD free status, zones 3b and 4a do not have access to the European Union (EU) market,” he said, before continuing that the government is working around the clock to ensure that the affected zones meet the requirements of the EU market as well as other international markets.
The Minister also reminded farmers that the cordon fences erected to control livestock movement and subsequently the spread of FMD combined with regularly scheduled vaccinations were measures employed by the government through the ministry to curb the devastating effects of the disease.
Speaking to the challenges posed by wildlife, particularly elephants that destroy crops and disease control infrastructure, Ralotsia reassured farmers that there were ongoing engagements with the affected ministries to find appropriate measures to manage the situation.
He also pleaded with farmers to register their holdings, whether cattle post, integrated farm or ranch as it is important for animal traceability.
“It is the only way we will realize better value out of our cattle and unlock the economic potential of livestock in the district, which accounts for about 36 percent of the national herd,” said the Minister.