THE current outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) amongst the cattle of farmers in certain parts of northern Namibia is under strict management to curb the further spread of the bovine disease.
The Livestock Producers’ Organisation (LPO) of Namibia in an official statement noted with empathy and understanding the concerns of the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) about a possible FMD contamination from Africa, specifically from Namibia.
The LPO stated that Namibia has a disease-free, highly regulated, and individually traceable livestock system in the FMD free zone of the country.
“For approximately 60 years, the country has managed to be FMD-free due to the effective and stringent procedures put in place. This is an achievement of which Namibia is proud. The LPO can however relate to the concerns of the USCA because an outbreak of FMD south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) will spell disaster for the Namibian red meat industry,” the statement reads.
Although Namibia has a small beef production capacity that contributes about 0.5% to the world market the industry contributes about 4% of the GDP of Namibia.
“It may sound insignificant, but 72% of Namibia’s population is dependent on farming, whilst livestock production is the mainstay of the rural economy,” the statement reads.
According to the LPO, there are challenges in maintaining Namibia’s animal health status but these challenges have been dealt with successfully over the past 60 years and the industry together with the relevant authorities will continue to deal with it successfully in the future.
“Namibia is the only country in Africa that is accredited to export meat from its FMD-free zone to basically the whole world. Losing its export market will result in livestock farmers losing their livelihood,” the statement reads.
According to the LPO, FMD is a greater threat to the Namibian producer and the economy as a whole, than it is to the US industry.
“Livestock producers in this country will do everything in their power to uphold the FMD free status. Various protocols are put in place by the competent authority to eliminate the risk of contamination, including inoculation north of the VCF, a surveillance area within the FMD-free zone with strict movement control, and strict procedures by export abattoirs regarding post-mortem tests and cooling of carcasses to eliminate any risks of virus infection, to name but a few.”
The LPO appealed to their fellow meat producers across the world to support them in their efforts to keep the FMD free zone disease-free and to assist them in producing some of the best free-range, grass-fed, and hormone-free meat in the world.