Namibia’s response to FMD must not be lukewarm: Rukoro

WINDHOEK; The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the Northern Communal Areas is of great concern to the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco).

Meatco Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Advocate Vekuii Rukoro said this during a media open day hosted by the corporation in Windhoek on Wednesday.

Addressing members of the media and other role players in the agriculture industry like the Meat Board of Namibia, Namibia Agricultural Union and independent economists and farmers, Rukoro expressed concern over the FMD outbreak and the impact it could have on the agriculture sector if not addressed properly.

“It is the biggest threat to the President’s signature policy intervention on poverty alleviation and job creation, not just in the Northern Communal Areas, but across the country,” he said.

Rukoro added that since 70 per cent of Namibia’s population depends on agriculture, it will have a major negative direct and indirect impact on the sector.

“If the epidemic is not effectively addressed it will turn into a national disaster of unforeseen proportions. The nation’s response must not be lukewarm,” he said.

The Meatco CEO said the approach to the outbreak should not be the traditional approach of throwing money at the problem, but must be informed by the need to address the real roots of the problem.

The movement of animals must also be effectively addressed so that FMD does not cross the Red Line into commercial farming areas.

Rukoro emphasised the seriousness of the outbreak by saying if the disease crossed the Red Line, Namibia “will never be the same”

The Red Line or veterinary cordon fence is a pest exclusion fence that separates northern Namibia from the central and southern parts of the country.

Rukoro further stated that he thinks President Hage Geingob should consider calling a national conference on agriculture, more specifically on the livestock and meat industry, to address some serious questions that are still unanswered. He did not specify which issues these are.

The first cases of FMD were detected at the Ondama Yomunghete crush pen on 11 May 2015 and at the Okalupalona and Onehanga crush pens on 12 May 2015.

Areas where FMD cases have been detected are the whole of the Ohangwena Region, Oshikoto Region including the Okankolo constituency, Onyaanya constituency north of the B1 road, Omuthiya constituency north of the B1 road, Eengodi constituency, Onayena constituency and the Oniipa constituency.

Areas in the Oshana Region includes the Ondangwa constituency north of the B1 road and the C46 road, Okaku constituency north of C46, Oshakati East and West constituencies north of C46, Okatana constituency north of C46 and D3609 straight up to the Oshana-Ohangwena border.

Areas in the Omusati Region include all constituencies and parts north of C46.

Areas in the Kavango West Region include the Mpungu constituency west of the B15 and B11 roads.

The Deputy Director of Animal Disease Control in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), John Shoopala on Wednesday said at a media conference that Government will spend about N.dollars 119 million on the vaccination of close to 1.2 million cattle against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the north-central regions of Namibia with immediate effect.

Half a million vaccines are expected to arrive from the Botswana Vaccine Institute on Thursday.