Following months of uncertainty and hardship endured by farmers, the government’s decision to lift restrictions has been welcomed following successful control and containment of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, which was detected in the Zambezi region in May 2021.
The move is also seen as a deterrent to cattle rustlers taking advantage of the FDM situation by smuggling stolen livestock into Zambia where the market is said to be lucrative.
The police said an ox, which could sell at around N$7 000 in Namibia, is being sold between N$12 000 to N$15 000 in Zambia.
The stolen cattle are driven into Zambia where there is a market for slaughtering, unlike in the Zambezi region where Meatco has been partly closed and farmers cannot sell their animals due to FDM.
Zambezi has over the years suffered setbacks after numerous crippling FMD outbreaks in areas like the Kabbe and Katima Rural constituencies.
Chief veterinary officer Albertina Shilongo yesterday said, according to the intensive disease surveillance conducted by the DVS, the last confirmed FMD case was reported on 4 November 2021 in Zambezi.
In line with Namibia’s FMD contingency plan, outbreak restrictions in the FMD protection and infected zones can be lifted three months after the last confirmed case.
This means 4 February 2022 marked three months after the last confirmed FMD case in the region.
“All restrictions that were imposed as a result of the FMD outbreak in the Zambezi region are, therefore, lifted with immediate effect. In order to prevent future outbreaks, vaccination against FMD will continue in the region, and farmers are urged to bring their cattle to the crush-pens when announcements are made by veterinary services,” Shilongo said.
Contacted for comment, Kabbe South councillor John Likando yesterday welcomed the lifting of FDM restrictions. He, however, said the permanent roadblocks in both Kabbe areas and part of Katima Mulilo Rural are also partially open.
“The roadblock is still there. It’s partially open, I just drove there now. When you are coming from the affected areas, they team spray and search your vehicle, but when you are coming from town, they don’t spray or search your vehicle. That is why I am saying it is partially open,” Likando said.
He said the lifting would bring about the free movement and trade of livestock because people will sell to Meatco, which has been closed partially. It gives the green light for farmers. It means that the abattoir will open soon. It will be a relief to farmers in terms of reducing their livestock because some have more livestock than expected. It will also reduce illegal crossing of livestock into Zambia where there is a cheap market,” Likando stated.
Agriculture ministry spokesperson Jona Musheko viewed the lifting of restrictions as good news to farmers and traders of animals and animal products in the region as they will now be allowed to move such products out and within the region.