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BMC meets first hurdle in Maun

Government efforts to implement Commodity Based Trade (CBT) as a strategy of controlling endemic Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Ngamiland has met its first hurdle.

This came after farmers rejected the P 23 per Kilogram price offered by Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) for cattle bought under the commencing CBT arrangement. Following 10 years of endemic FMD in Ngamiland, government announced that it will utilise new meat-processing value chain-based approaches, also known as Commodity Based Trade (CBT) in Ngamiland. In adopting CBT, government was buoyed by the 2015 changes of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Code which ensured that beef export market access can now be attained utilising CBT.

The prevailing approach of managing FMD in South African Development Community (SADC) as evidenced by Ngamiland in Botswana is designed on a geographic basis, grounded in the use of extensive veterinary diseases fencing systems. According to conservationists, this strategy has proven disastrous for migratory wildlife and now works against the long-term goals of establishing sustainable Transfrontier Conservation Areas   by perpetuating significant socioeconomic inequities faced by resident livestock producers living with wildlife who are prevented from accessing profitable export markets.

 In 2016, Botswana was amongst different SADC delegates who assembled in Victoria Falls and agreed that CBT must be progressed and implemented in SADC region. SADC has found CBT to be a solution to appease an ongoing land-use conundrum in natural resources rich areas of SADC such as Ngamiland in Botswana where livestock production and wildlife conservation are conflicting.

Last week the Ministry Agricultural Development and Food Security with funding from United Nations funded Ngamiland’s Sustainable Land Management project organized a meeting at Maun Lodge to sensitise stakeholders on the implementation of CBT. Botswana Meat Commission’s Maun Plant Manager, Oabona Ramotshwara revealed that under the CBT arrangement, BMC will buy only quarantined animals at the rate of P 23/KG of cold dress mass of carcass mass at Makalamabedi quarantine.

Farmers Associations however refused the offer saying it is too little. With BMC’s  revelations that it will buy cattle exclusively at the quarantines, farmers complained that due to few working quarantines they will have to pay more for cattle transportation to the quarantines. Chairman of Hainaveld Farmers Association, Killer Ledimo said farmers are calling to BMC to buy cattle at the source and transport them on its own to the quarantine.

Chairman of Ngamiland Integrated Farmers Association, Mod Masedi on the other hand opined that there is still a lot of work that has to be done to teach farmers about CBT before its implementation. Other farmers threatened that they will boycott taking cattle to quarantines and selling to Maun abattoir due to the insignificant prices.  Regional Agriculture coordinator Obert Mabutha however told the gathering that cattle quarantining is going to be mandatory for every farmer and abattoir doing business in Ngamiland.

The threats of boycott come as is BMC is already battling low numbers of cattle sold by farmers for slaughter. According to Maun plant Manager by end of April, the abattoir failed to reach its target of 7900 slaughtered animals only managing to slaughter 4905. Ramotshwara said the abattoir currently operates at 62 percent capacity lower than the required capacity of 85 percent and above.

 Ramotshwara cited competition from existing three abattoirs, late payments to farmers and low prices they pay to farmers as potential reasons for low cattle sales. “We compete with other abattoirs in Ngamiland who apparently pay more and faster than us.” Ramotshwara said they are also still waiting for government funding as government has announced that the abattoir will not be privatized like the Francistown abattoir and will be supported financially by government saying however the promised funding has not yet arrived.

From deliberations made at Maun Lodge meeting by BMC and the Department of Veterinary Services and the farmers associations, it came apparent that there is neither clear policy guidance nor a coherent plan on the ground to guide how this CBT will be implemented. It also came clear that the Ministry Environment and Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism as an entity mandated for conservation  duties is in the meantime absent in the implementation and ongoing efforts towards CBT despite  CBT  being both a conservation and food production initiative.

Dr Odireleng Thololwane of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) seemed to expose the disturbing reality when he revealed that DVS has no budget to maintain quarantines infrastructure in Ngamiland to enable easy implementation of CBT. This is despite that the success of CBT depends on cattle having to be quarantined for 30 days for anti mortem inspections before being taken to the abattoir. Dr Thololwane said they received funding to maintain Makalamabedi quarantine and Kgomokgwana quarantines saying Makalamabedi is ready to receive 500 cattle per a month. Maintenance of Kgomokgwana has not started while DVS has to find funding to resurrect other existing quarantines.  

While the wildlife tourism and Cattle production sectors are both important contributors to rural economic development in the SADC proposed transfrontier conservation areas such as Kavango –Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) competition between the two is rampant due to prevalence of FMD transmitted between wildlife and livestock. It was against this backdrop that when government early this year announced plans to implement CBT, farmers smelt a ray of hope to finally emerge from  poverty imposed by the 10 year prevalence  of FMD in Ngamiland since the 2008 Kuke Outbreak.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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