Maun — Recent Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreaks and African Migratory Locust infestation experienced in some areas of the Okavango Sub-district are under control.
This was revealed by Assistant Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Ms Beauty Manake when addressing a North West District full council meeting on Tuesday.
The district experienced locust invasion in the Habu and Seronga areas while FMD outbreaks were confirmed at Nxamasera extension and Xakao areas.
Ms Manake explained that the outbreaks needed urgent attention to prevent locust spreading to other districts thereby frustrating farmers’ efforts to improve food security while FMD would have negatively affected the beef industry.
“We had to intensify control measures to fight the locust more so that ploughing season has commenced as well as contain FMD in the affected areas,” she added.
Stressing that outbreaks could only be defeated through concerted efforts, Ms Manake appealed to political leaders to mobilise communities to join forces with government to overcome challenges in the region.
She called for 100 per cent animal vaccination during FMD campaigns as well as reporting of locust movement.
Ms Manake also appealed to farmers to take care of their cattle for easy location during vaccination campaigns.
She said some farmers were undermining the ministry’s efforts as they failed to bring all their cattle for vaccination.
For their part, some councillors commended the ministry for responding swiftly to address national disasters experienced in the Okavango Sub-district.
They expressed appreciation for the institution of control measures including dispatching surveillance and vaccination teams to the affected areas as well as sending a delegation led by the assistant minister to appreciate the situation.
Councillors said the move indicated that government was equally concerned about the impact of the outbreaks on the Ngamiland community.
The outbreaks, they said, were threatening food security and the beef industry.
They said it was gratifying to learn that the situation was under control and that efforts were ongoing to eradicate the locust and FMD in the affected areas.
Okavango Sub-district chairperson, Mr Mpoke Karapo appealed to the assistant minister to consider assisting Okavango farmers with tractors as they were passionate about farming.
He raised concern about government tractors which had been idling for a long time because they needed to be serviced.
Councillor Boipuso Mangurunga of Seronga/Gunutsoga praised the ministry for fulfilling its promises with regard to securing pesticides and aircraft for spraying in the locust hot spots in the Okavango Delta.
In addition, he said Ms Manake had promised to engage Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) to buy farmers’ produce as it had been reported that they failed to secure a market.
“We are thankful that BAMB came within a short period of time to buy farmers’ harvest and that you managed to secure pesticides and flights in an effort to control the locust,” said Councillor Mangurunga.