07 Oct 2015 15:50pm
WINDHOEK, 07 OCT (NAMPA) The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), John Mutorwa has expressed shock and disappointment that some traditional leaders insist Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is not real.
In a statement made available to Nampa on Wednesday, he said FMD is the number-one enemy of farmers.
Mutorwa was responding to a statement made during the 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Council of Traditional Leaders in Ondangwa, Oshana Region.
It is utterly disheartening to hear that some traditional leaders continue to insist that FMD is not real or a disease spread by insects, and that our efforts to contain it are not effective and therefore discourage the participation of their subjects.
We cannot achieve any result if traditional authorities do not accept that FMD is a problem for the livestock sector of the entire country for which you have a role to play in your traditional area, he lamented.
The FMD virus is retained among buffaloes and is spread in cycles between domestic animals and wild animals. Farmers in the north-central regions are unable to sell their cattle because of the recent FMD outbreak that was detected in May this year. Once established, the disease is very difficult to eradicate, especially in communal areas where continuous movement and mixing of livestock occurs, according to Mutorwa.
FMD is transmitted to other animals through aerosol (a colloid of fine solid particles or liquid droplets, in air or another gas), direct contact, fomite (any object or substance capable of carrying infectious organisms, such as germs or parasites), oral, through contact with contaminated farming equipment, vehicles, clothing, or feed, and by domestic and wild predators.
He made reference to the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) that include the Mukwe and Ndiyona constituencies, which have not experienced the disease for almost 26 years. Then suddenly, on 11 May 2015, it reappeared in the Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions, effectively closing all market access for 1.4 million cattle in the area.
The Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) in the ministry responded through a mass vaccination campaign and over 800 000 cattle in the affected regions have been vaccinated at a rate of 25 000 cattle per day, according to Mutorwa.
The DVSs response included more than 40 roadblocks and disinfection points throughout the NCA that included Zambezi, Kavango East and West, Ohangwena, Oshana, Oshikoto (north), Omusati, Kunene (north) and the Tsumkwe constituency (Otjozondjupa Region).
Mutorwa expressed optimism that the overall infection rates have gone down. No positive case of FMD had been identified since 22 July 2015 and if it continues this way, the outbreak can be declared over by 22 January 2016.
It is equally disheartening to note that disputes over the boundaries of traditional areas continue, resulting in an unequal distribution of grazing which compels farmers to criss-cross the country in search of grazing; some going as far as Kubata in Angola.
Unfortunately, these animals come back and those problems are experienced here. If our vision is to be an industrialised nation by 2030, we have to realise that we have to have a country clear of this disease, he added.
The 18th AGM of the Council of Traditional Leaders started on Monday and ends Friday.