The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has spend about N$150m to protect the agricultural sector against the wide spread Foot and Mouth Disease, Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Milton Maseke said.
According to the last census which was done last year, the country’s livestock export market was worth around N$2.5 billion.
According to Dr Maseke, the MAWF spent an overall N$200m to fight FMD with this amount including salaries of employees.
“The farmers in the north are negatively affected, because they have lost their market. Animals have lost their values which they were worth overnight, which makes the farmers unable to sell the livestock as there is no market during this outbreak,” said Dr. Maseke.
According to Dr. Maseke, the sooner the MAWF can control the FMD, the lesser the loses will be that the industry is losing out on, because it will give the farmers the opportunity to return to the market, which will enable them to recover partial costs that they have lost.
“In terms of the Northern Communal Areas (NCA), which is the farmers that are affected, I cannot really say the amount of money they contribute to the N$2.5 billion livestock export market worth,” said Dr. Maseke.
According to the MAWF, they were able to defend the livestock export market and the country is said to be benefitting from the livestock sector as they were able to find ways to recover the costs that they have lost to date in the shortest possible time, enabling the farmers to make some income.
The agricultural sector which is made up of livestock and crop contributes round about 6% to the total GDP of the country, while livestock sector in the agricultural sector contributes about 70% to the total income of the agricultural sector.
“Livestock keeping is the biggest employer of our people, bringing salaries to most of these people and close to 60% of the nation survives from the agricultural sector. Crop is an upcoming area, but it might be doing well in a few year’s time, because currently the grapes and dates are doing very well,” said Dr. Maseke.
According to the Namibian Agricultural Union Commodities Manager, Harald Marggraff, there’s always a total ban on the movement of animals should there be an outbreak of FMD, because they are trying to prevent the spread of the disease and that is the why the farmers in the NCA can’t market their animals which leaves them with no income, and that is also one of the restrictions that the MAWF have put up on livestock.
“I feel that the biggest problem is the loss of income on household level, because the farmers won’t be left with any income if there’s no sale of livestock and these farmers need the income they generate in order to cover their expenses, such as school fees and day to day necessities,” said Marggraff.
According to Marggraff, the FMD needs to be extensively controlled because it will have a devastating effect on the country’s economy and the livelihood of the farming community.
The Acting Permanent Secretary to the Agriculture Ministry, Abraham Nehemia, said in a press release that any animal movement outside the containment areas must be authorised by the Directorate of Veterinary Services, which will issue movement permit and also that cattle needed to be vaccinated initially twice 30 days apart and thereafter every four to six months until the disease was eliminated.