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FMD outbreak in Kareng

The Acting Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Ralotsia said that about two weeks ago they had a resurgence of foot and mouth disease in the Kareng area picked during routine inspection for trade.

Addressing a Press Conference at the Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters Tuesday, Ralotsia explained that a subsequent surveillance carried out from 10th March 2015 to 15th March 2015 has so far cumulatively revealed 59 cases in three crushes as follows: Maxebo 13 cases, Mokgalo 11 cases and Motopi II recorded 35 cases.

He further mentioned that another revelation during further inspections was that in one particular crush, out of the 118 cattle inspected; only 6 had proof of vaccination against FMD from the most recent campaign translating to only 7%.

"This is of great concern to us and it has become apparent that among others the major contributing factor to the outbreak is that farmers are not playing their role fairly," noted Ralotsia.

Ralotsia said, "FMD management should be a joint effort between the ministry and farmers. If farmers are not bringing their cattle for vaccination, then government efforts will fail."

Acting Assistant Minister Fidelis Molao has visited the affected areas and officials are encouraged that farmers are receptive, supportive and have pledged to cooperate to contain and control the outbreak.

Ralotsia also informed media that the ministry has leased the NAMPAAD dairy farm at Sunnyside to a private investor, saying that 97 pregnant dairy cows arrived at the farm on the 4th March 2015 and already 35 have calved and are being milked.

He revealed that further support to the sub-sector is by availing sexed semen for dairy production through the ministry's Artificial Insemination Services. "If this technology is adopted, dairy herd numbers is expected to increase significantly because most of the calves born will be female," he added.

Ralotsia said that this year is evolving to be a very bad one. He pointed out that currently in most parts of the country crops are already showing signs of total failure due to stunted growth while others reached permanent wilting point due to the prolonged dry spell and heat waves, which engulfed the country.

"In the previous 2013/14 cropping season 417,000 hectares were ploughed and planted by 127,511 farmers while this year the area planted is anticipated to be far below the previous season. Presently we have measured 127,800 hectares for 28,000 farmers, however, the figure is expected to increase as field measuring is ongoing," said Ralotsia.

He revealed that due to the unfavourable weather conditions, it is anticipated that the present cropping season will be a difficult one compared to the previous season where Botswana experienced some good showers which resulted in a bumper harvest for the country.

Ralotsia said this season they have experienced below average rainfall and as a result grazing condition is not good. He said that unfortunately the grazing condition will deteriorate further as the season progresses.

"Cattle will lose condition or even die, therefore Livestock Advisory Centres (LACs) becomes even more important in terms of providing basic livestock needs," added Ralotsia.

"As the year is unfolding to be a difficult one as I have just stated, I take this opportunity to urge farmers to destock. Old cows, oxen and cows without calves must be sold now when they are still in good condition and can attract good prices," highlighted the Acting Minister.

He said that only seed stock should be retained for future breeding and multiplication and also encouraged farmers to start considering salvaging and saving whatever crop residue they may have to feed their livestock.

The Acting Minister urged farmers to seriously start considering their farming enterprises as businesses and to keep business records, saying that this will enable them to evaluate the performance of their farming business.

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