The Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) of Namibia has noted with empathy and understanding the concern of the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) about a possible foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) contamination from Africa, specifically from Namibia.
Erika von Gierszewski, Namibia Agriculture Union spokesperson stated that the LPO can relate to the concerns of the USCA because possible FMD-outbreak south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) will be disastrous for the red meat industry of Namibia. She added that although there are challenges in maintaining Namibia’s animal health status, these challenges have been dealt with successfully over the past 60 years.
She further explained that 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.
“The industry and the relevant authorities will continue to successfully deal with it in the future – contrary to what has been published in the media recently. We appeal to our fellow meat producers worldwide, to support us in our efforts to keep the free zone disease-free and to keep on producing some of the best free-range meat – grass-fed and hormone-free.” Gierszewski said.
Namibia has a small beef production capacity that contributes but 0.5% to the world market. It contributes about 4% of the GDP of Namibia with 72% of the population dependent on farming, and livestock production.
Gierszewski further stressed that Namibia is the only country in Africa that is accredited to export meat from its FMD-free zone to basically the whole world and losing its export market will result in livestock farmers losing their livelihood.
“FMD is perhaps a bigger 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 free status, “ Gierszewski concluded.