RUNDU – Farmers in Kavango East say the current foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, which led to restricted livestock movement, has had a huge economic impact on farmers.
“The ban of the movement of livestock has halted all economic activity of the livestock sector in the region,” said Kavango East, adding farmers are unable to make an income from livestock sales due to the restrictions in place.
Muremi told New Era farmers who depend on livestock have been badly affected, because they cannot do any business with their livestock while the ban is in force.
“Not only farming activities but any secondary activity which depend on livestock in the region has also been affected. A good example is local butcheries and informal meat traders have also been affected,” he said.
“As a result, some of them have closed their businesses because of no local supply of cattle. The fortunate traders are sourcing the meat from outside the region at high transportation cost.”
At the moment, there are no livestock marketing activities taking place during the ban. A restriction on the movement of livestock and products remain in force following the outbreak in September this year.
“Information we obtained from Meatco indicates that they have about 400 cattle on their list, which they cannot slaughter during the ban. This is an income loss to farmers of about N$3.5 million at the average price of N$7 000 per cattle,” Muremi noted.
The FMD outbreak was first detected on 28 September 2020 at Hoha village in the Ndiyona constituency. The disease has now spread to Kavango West. A mass vaccination campaign against FMD is currently underway in the two regions.
According to Muremi, the movement ban has affected the marketing plans of farmers, especially those who have planned to market their livestock between October and December. It is not yet known when the ban would be lifted.
The local union is playing a key role during the outbreak, according to Muremi following a meeting last month.
“At this meeting, stakeholders mapping was done to identified specific roles, which each stakeholder should play during the outbreak. KERFU’s role was identified as that of disseminating information to the farming communities by encouraging them to take all their cattle to vaccination points,” he said.
Muremi said the union has also been encouraging and engaging farmers to adhere to measures put in place by the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) pertaining to restriction of movement of livestock, as well as taking their livestock’s to crush pens for vaccination.
“We also accompany DVS officials to local radio stations for live call-in shows to update the farming communities on developments regarding the outbreak,” he said.
Muremi said this year’s outbreak has occurred during the dry season of the year when grazing is scant and cattle are scattered in search of grazing and water, especially in the open communal areas. He said the conditions on the ground was also making it difficult for farmers to have 100% vaccination coverage.
“The situation is better for small-scale commercial farmers with fenced off farms. In the case of small-scale commercial farmers, coverage is above 80%. The only challenge with small-scale commercial farmers is there is no network coverage to promptly inform workers to round-up all cattle, especially if there is a change of vaccination date due to DVS logistical challenges,” he said.
“However, the union keeps on encouraging farmers to put in more effort to look for all their cattle and present them at vaccination points. KERFU commends DVS officials for the measures they have put in place to contain the further spread of the disease and it is bearing fruits.”