Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister, John Mutorwa, says life must go on during the current outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the North, and that no weddings or funerals should be interrupted, as long as people adhere to the containment regulations.
Mutorwa, who personally reassured northern communal farmers yesterday, also highlighted that Cabinet has approved - in principle - the erection of a livestock fence between Namibia and Angola as a long-term solution.
He said the necessary consultations will be held with the neighbouring Angola on the matter.
Speaking to farmers and farmer associations at Ondangwa yesterday, Mutorwa explained that animal products such as meat and fresh milk, as well as thatched grass, hay, straw, and crop residue may be moved into and within the infected and contained areas.
He, however, added that such products are not allowed out of these areas.
“For events such as weddings and funerals, where there must be meat, as well as home slaughtering, movement of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs may be allowed for direct slaughter within 24 hours under veterinary supervision.”
“Life must continue while we are dealing with the outbreak,” explained Mutorwa.
He added that the livestock fence that will soon be erected is actually a border fence between Namibia and Angola.
“We are talking about a border fence, because we are facing this problem, but the fact is that for sovereign states there must be a recognised border, and both Namibia and Angola are sovereign states,” he said.
Once the fence is up, said Mutorwa, it will be used, not only for animal disease control, but for the security.
Officials from both countries will agree where to designate entry and exit points, he said.
“Had there been a fence, this problem we are facing could have been prevented,” said Mutorwa, alluding to reports that the outbreak was first detected in cattle from Namibia that were grazing in Angola.
Mutorwa called for calm and said there was no reason to panic, as reports indicate that by Tuesday the disease had not moved outside the containment area.
Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Milton Maseke, said more than 1.2 million cattle are at risk and need to be vaccinated.
This number includes over 200 000 cattle that graze about 50km into Angola, due to the drought conditions in Namibia.
Maseke added that so far 74 000 cattle have been vaccinated in the northern region at a rate of 4 000 cattle per day.
There are, however, plans to push the number to 25 000 cattle per day, so that 1 million cattle would have been vaccinated in the next 40 days.
The N$129 million approved by Cabinet from the ministry’s funds will also be used to add to the 36 roadblocks that have already been set up in the northern communal areas.
The money has also been used to purchase over 500 000 vaccines, with an order for another 500 000 already placed and expected to arrive before the end of July.
The DVS has also set up a hotline number (0800 809 840) to be utilised by people with questions related to FMD.
ONDANGWA MERJA IILEKA