Botswana to Cull More Than 10,000 Cattle to Fight Disease Outbreak
Botswana has reported that more than 10,000 cattle will be culled in the country's northeast in an attempt to fight the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. Botswana, known as one of Africa's greatest beef producers, was forced to halt beef export in August over the virus, which includes the lucrative European Union.
Molebatsi Molebatsi, Assistant Minister for Agriculture, said the decision to kill affected livestock was arrived at after consultations with disease control experts.
Molebatsi said, "The decision to depopulate is the one we have taken. We took the decision after consultation with experts. We don't want any traces of the virus to remain or have any further viral circulation."
Molebatsi said there are 19,000 cattle in the affected zone, which is close to the Zimbabwe border; more than 10,000 will be slaughtered, along with some sheep and goats.
Veterinarian Mbatshi Mazwinduma said farmers must be compensated due to the culling.
Mazwinduma said, "It comes at a great cost because it means people have to be compensated, and there are also environmental issues of animals that have been slaughtered…on how to dispose of them safely."
He said there should be certain considerations in disease control, particularly for the farmers affected.
"When you are trying to control the disease, you have to consider the economic, social and often political impact. Politically speaking, remember at times, you are going to be slaughtering animals that belong to farmers, and you might push them further into abject poverty. Most of the time, the compensation of animals that are slaughtered is nowhere near the equivalent value if they were to sell them at the market," Mazwinduma said.
A farmer from the region affected, Bose Sethupa, said the government has to keep the disease under control though many people's livelihoods will be affected.
Sethupa said, "It is a good move to try and contain the spread of the disease, but at the same time, it is not good for the farmers because the government compensation is lower than the value of what the farmer will be having. But apart from that, the move is good. It is truly meant to protect the export market, which is a key to our economy."
Each year, Botswana sends roughly half of its beef exports or about 9,000 tons, to the EU.
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