Acting Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Fidelis Molao
In a dramatic turn of events, the government has shifted blame on the Ngamiland farmers for their role in the continued Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreaks in the area.
Ngamiland farmers had accused the government for manufacturing and infecting their cattle with FMD, in a bid to forcefully remove them from the district, to pave way for tourism activity in that area. The government has instead come back to say the farmers are the ones at fault since they do not play their roles of vaccinating their cattle and controlling their movement.
President Ian Khama who recently addressed Kgotla meetings in Maun expressed disappointment and concern, regarding the farmers’ ineffectiveness in working with government in its effort to control FMD in the Ngamiland. He revealed that Government spends almost P20 million annually in Ngamiland alone to fight the FMD outbreaks.
Khama’s concern follows another FMD outbreak announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture. The ministry confirmed that during a usual check routine inspection of cattle for trade, some livestock were found with lesions apparently due to FMD in the Kareng area within Maxembo and Lekurutshe crushes.
Subsequently a surveillance carried out between 10th March and 15th March 2015 has so far cumulatively revealed 59 cases of FMD in areas of Maxembo, Mokgalo and Motopi II reflecting 13, 11 35 of FMD cases respectively.
On Tuesday, Acting Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Fidelis Molao also remonstrated before the North West District Council (NWDC) that it had become apparent that among major contributing factors of the FMD outbreaks is that farmers were not playing their role fairly well. He expressed that in order for government to succeed on FMD management a joint effort between Ministry of Agriculture and farmers was crucial.
Molao explained that if farmers continued to snub cattle vaccinations, efforts by government to control the disease will remain unsuccessful. He went on to reveal that further inspections by his Ministry showed that in one particular crush, out of the 118 cattle inspected only six had proof of vaccination against FMD from the recent campaign translating to only seven percent of them.
Molao highlighted that upon the recent outbreak, during their ring vaccination that runs for 28 days they discovered other FMD cases and the number had increased to 85 of which 45 cattle did not have the last vaccination brand.
The acting Assistant Minister further told the council that vaccinations statistics in the district were at 57 percent, compared to the average coverage of 85 percent.
“We must admit that still on the ongoing vaccination, overall coverage is not as good as it should be,” he complained.
For his part, NWDC chairman Reaboka Mbulawa told the council that the frequent FMD outbreaks were a sign of lack of prudence by Ngamiland farmers. He explained that the scenario calls for district leadership to take a robust and collective action towards the eradication of FMD.
“The council proposes a district action plan named FMD Operation Restore the District which is a 24 months plan that would help battle the disease. Sensitization on the plan will start midyear,” he revealed.
Meanwhile claims made by the acting Assistant Minister that Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) Maun Abattoir had started the process of increasing the throughput (kill per day) by automating the overhead rail contradicted an earlier statement by BMC Maun abattoir plant Manager Mothobi Mothobi.
Mothobi told WeekendPost in an interview that due to the small capacity of the abattoir and use of manual manpower it would be impossible for the plant to accommodate an extra number of cattle to be slaughtered per day.
Acting assistant Minister had however told the North West District Council that the government expects to increase the abattoir slaughtering capacity from 100 to 120 head per day. He further added that the capacity could also be increased to 180 head per day if a double shift is operated.
Meanwhile this publication has learnt that Maun abattoir is still far from reaching slaughtering of 180 head per day. It is understood that the current number the abattoir could take in per day is 95 cattle. In 2012 the abattoir managed to slaughter 60 per day, in 2013 the number increased to 80. Last year it also increased to 90 and this year there has only been a slight increase to 95 head per day.
Claims made by the Minister comes after it was revealed that to help decrease the spread of FMD there is need to reduce the number of cattle from areas where there is an outbreak by slaughtering more cattle per day. Report indicates that Ngamiland remains the district with the largest number of cattle, the district has a capacity of around 450 000 of cattle.
The recent outbreak has also affected the trading opportunity that was reaching final agreements between Botswana and Thailand. The two countries were reported to have had a concluding deal to trade both live cattle and meat to Thailand. The deal was cut off short by the recent outbreak from Kareng area as Thailand saw the deal as an FMD threat to them.
“This opportunity was going to assist in improving the marketing of cattle and livelihoods of Batswana,” stressed Molao.
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‚Äôs main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures‚Äô 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‚Äô 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. ‚ÄėLet‚Äôs have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,‚Äô he stated
He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‚ÄėIf we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy‚Äô, 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. ‚ÄėWe 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,‚Äô 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.
‚ÄėAfter realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it. ¬†‚ÄėWe did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,‚Äô 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. ‚ÄėResidents 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, ‚Äėhe 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. ‚ÄėWe suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,‚Äô
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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.
‚ÄúThe 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.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúWe welcome the Director‚Äôs general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the ‚Äúfive Ps‚ÄĚ 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.‚ÄĚ
According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. ‚ÄúFor 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.‚ÄĚ