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Meat board takes charge to control FMD outbreak in Namibia

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Source: Annelie Coleman, Farmer’s Weekly, 11 January 2021, photo credit: Animal Welfare Institute

The recent foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Namibia at the end of 2020 was largely contained and did not pose a threat to areas south of the veterinary cordon fence in the north of the country, according to Thinus Pretorius, chairperson of Nambia’s Livestock Producers’ Organisation (LPO).

The veterinary cordon fence divided the veterinary buffer zone and the veterinary surveillance zone, and commenced at Palgrave Point on the west coast of Namibia, running to a point on the common border between Namibia and Botswana.

According to a directive by the Namibian Department of Veterinary Services, the outbreak occurred at the Onamulunga Village in the Olokunda constituency on 29 December.

Two cattle showed clinical signs of the disease and the constituency was consequently declared an infected area. FMD surveillance was intensified to determine the extent of the outbreak and farmers were requested to subject their animals for inspection by veterinary officials.

Farmers’ Weekly previously reported that the LPO’s concern about the poor management of the veterinary cordon fence resulted in the Meat Board of Namibia getting involved in the management of the fence.

Pretorius said the meat board had provided logistical support, funded by the livestock producers’ levy. The levy was initially earmarked to support Namibia’s organised agricultural structures as well as market development and analysis.

“Following a decision taken in the last quarter of 2020, a portion of the levy is now channeled to the meat board for the purpose of the upkeep of the cordon fence. However, the Department of Veterinary Services ultimately remains in charge of the fence,” Pretorius added.

So far, the meat board has conducted extensive inspections along the fence. Pretorius said the part of the fence (640km) that stretched from the Botswana border to Oshivello was in an acceptable condition. The meat board had also deployed private contractors to upgrade all surveillance points.

“It must nevertheless be kept in mind that farmers to the north of the fence farm communally and that the traditional grazing areas often straddle the Angolan border. FMD is endemic in that country The Kwanyama tribe’s ancestral lands, for instance, occur on both sides of the border and cattle movements across occur regularly. This makes it extremely difficult to manage diseases such as FMD north of the cordon fence,” Pretorius said.

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