NEWS 2005

 

BOTSWANA: Govt unveils plan to control FMD

GABORONE, 2 March (IRIN) - Botswana has drawn up a contingency plan for controlling and eventually eradicating foot and mouth disease (FMD) as it battles to meet the beef export preconditions set by the European Union (EU).

"Given our small domestic market for animal products, we want to maintain the export market, and the contingency plan is the first step in meeting the requirements of our customers," said Mathias Chakalisa, the permanent secretary in the ministry of agriculture.

The cattle industry is Botswana's second largest foreign currency earner, after diamonds, and a lifeline for most Batswana, but the FMD outbreaks in 2002/03 froze beef exports to emerging markets as well as the EU, its largest customer.

According to Chakalisa, the country lost over 170 million Pula (US $38.4 million) in export revenue as a result.

The emergency programme, approved last week at a beef industry stakeholders' meeting in the capital, Gaborone, seeks to revive the country's ailing cattle industry.

"The plan contains eight elements, which are risk analysis of the disease, prevention strategies, early warning contingency plans, strategies for control and eradication of the disease and support mechanism," Chakalisa explained.

The contingency measures are to be presented to a delegation of EU beef inspectors visiting Botswana next week to assess compliance with EU livestock industry-related export requirements.

[ENDS]

IRIN - [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]