By: Justicia Shipena
The agriculture ministry has suspended importing and in-transit cloven-hoofed animals and their products from South Africa into Namibia.
The decision is influenced by the increasing Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in South Africa.
Currently, South Africa has 110 open FMD outbreaks in the previous FMD-free zone detected from 13 June to 5 August.
According to the directorate of animal health of South Africa, the cases are in Kwazulu Natal with 73 cases, Limpopo with 7 cases, North West with 14 cases, Gauteng with one case, and Free State with 14 cases and Mpumalanga with one.
FMD is a viral disease which causes lesions and lameness in cattle, sheep and other cloven-hoofed animals but does not affect people.
According to the ministry’s directorate of veterinary services, the outbreak could have a catastrophic effect on Namibia’s FMD-free zone.
On Wednesday, chief veterinary officer Albertina Shilongo says this suspension is not the first.
“We are just adding more products that are restricted or not allowed to import to Namibia because the situation in Namibia is not improving,” she said.
“We thought it prudent to stop the importation of fresh pork because we continued importing pork from South Africa from the foot and mouth disease-free compartment when the outbreak started.”
Among the products banned are fresh or frozen pork, uncooked processed pork, raw meat, bovine embryos and semen, raw meat including pork, uncooked processed meat, embryos and semen, grass, forages, lucerne and silage, as well as other FMD potentially infectious materials.
Shilongo added that Namibia is considering disinfecting the trucks coming from South Africa delivering live cattle.
“We just trying to make sure we don’t import good and mouth disease into our foot and mouth free zone Namibia,” she said.
In a statement on Wednesday, the agriculture ministry said there would be disinfection of all trucks in the livestock business before entering Namibia.
Footbaths will also be placed at all entry points, and the ministry will deploy additional staff at border posts to re-enforce searching and inspections of vehicles.
She urged farmers, especially those in the southern part of Namibia, to be on the lookout for any animal product being brought into Namibia from neighbouring South Africa.
“We want them to report any incident of animals from South Africa to the nearest state veterinary offices. They should also not bring livestock from South Africa at this stage because we minimise the risk,” said Shilongo in an interview with The Villager.
In February this year, Namibia lifted the movement restrictions of cloven-hoofed animals and products imposed following successful control and containment of the FMD, which was detected in the Zambezi region in May last year.
At that time, intensive disease surveillance conducted by the directorate of veterinary services showed that the last confirmed FMD case was reported on 4 November 2021 in the Zambezi region.
In 2015, there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the north of Namibia. It was the worst case in 40 years, and the outbreak spread to over three regions in less than five months.
In the same year, a total of 14 regions in the northern communal areas reported FMD cases from January to June 2015.
The outbreak cost N$180 million to control, and Namibia was declared free of the disease in January 2016.