NCAs may be declared FMD free

Windhoek: Providing no new outbreaks of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) are reported again this year, the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) will be declared FMD free on January 22, 2016.

The long-awaited news for suffering NCA farmers was announced yesterday at the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) congress in Windhoek by Director of Veterinary Services, Dr Milton Maseke, when giving an overview of the immense effort it took from the entire livestock and meat industry to combat the first outbreak of FMD in May this year in the NCAs. It was the first outbreak in some 30 years and according to Dr Maseke no new cases have been reported since June 22. This means, in accordance with international animal health regulations that the NCAs can be declared FMD free on January 22 next year.

Following the good news, all eyes of Namibian farmers will turn to the meeting of the Angolan/Namibian Joint Commission on Cooperation when it meets in Swakopmund this week to discuss the Namibia initiated plan to move the existing Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) to the border with Angola. Cabinet approved the plan on August 22 and the government has availed more than N$52 million for the planned operation that will hopefully bring a permanent solution to the problem of unrestricted movement of livestock between the two countries.

“It took strict animal and product movement restrictions, 44 roadblocks manned by over 300 personnel, five patrol teams around infected areas, the vaccination of some 1,2 million cattle, decontamination and the patrolling and repairing the Veterinary Cordon Fence to halt the disease,” Dr Maseke related.

As surveillance, 21 teams were set up in all regions of the NCAs and weekly farm inspections in former surveillance areas were done and daily reporting on the disease monitored.

Cattle were vaccinated initially twice 30 days apart and thereafter will have to be vaccinated every 4 to 6 months until the disease is eradicated.

The government has allocated over N$109 million to cover operational costs for 1, 1 million doses of vaccine, transport of 148 vehicles, equipment of N$11 million, repair the international border fence and employ 631 temporary employees and 320 permanent staff.

Angola assisted with vaccine and diagnostics after a meeting with representatives of the Angolan government on 19 June at Ondangwa.