The Namibia government has stopped neighbouring Botswana from exporting meat products to Angola via Namibia in fear of the Foot-and-Mouth diseases (FMD). “The Namibians did not allow passage of meat from Maun via Mohembo en-route to Angola, saying they first needed to carry out risk assessment,” claimed Botswana deputy Minister of Agriculture Fidelis Molao. “The risk assessment was delayed for a year, but when it came it indicated that beef could not pass from an FMD infected area through Namibia to Angola.”

Botswana’s national cattle herd is estimated to be just over 2.5 million, and its beef industry contributes 2.6 percent to Gross Domestic Production (GDP). This has encouraged Botswana to look outwards by established a lucrative market for its beef in Angola, a move that has returned millions of dollars to its coffers over the years. It however has to transport the beef, through Namibia, to Angola. But the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease in Botswana has raised fears over the safety of meat, forcing a ban from Namibia. “We trust Namibian authorities to adhere to international standards and protocol in that regard,” added Molao.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer, and other cloven-hooved ruminants. The disease spreads very quickly if not controlled and can be transferred by humans, vehicles and other objects that have been contaminated by the virus.

This, however, is not the first time irregularities have been spotted in Botswana beef. In 2011, Europe, which consumes 75 percent of Botswana beef, halted exports after observing deficiencies in official controls, abattoir operations and certification procedures.

Botswana has now turned to its northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, as its new market for beef and cattle, to ease pressure on grazing as well as stimulate the economy.

By George Mpofu

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