THE Botswana government has donated 473 200 doses of vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) to help Zimbabwe contain the recent outbreak and ensure that the infectious disease does not spread into the neighbouring country, which is the region’s prime beef producer.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
The development came as Zimbabwe has reported persistent FMD outbreaks in the southern regions in the past few years and last month notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that it was failing to contain the disease due to vaccine shortages.
Botswana announced the donation on its government Facebook page.
“The public is informed that the Government of Botswana has donated 473 200 doses of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine to the Government of Zimbabwe to control the current outbreak of FMD in their country, which they notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of on August 16, 2017,” the statement read.
It added the decision was taken to avert FMD spilling into its borders.
“This is an important measure to avert the possible risk of reversing the efforts invested in restoring the FMD-free status of Zone 6 and jeopardising the ongoing efforts to recover the FMD-free status of Zone 7,” it added.
Botswana Zone 6 and 7 cover the villages of the North East District and Bobirwa Sub-Districts.
Zimbabwean officials, however, professed ignorance over the donation.
Agriculture deputy minister in charge of livestock, Paddy Zhanda, yesterday said: “I am not aware of that, as the government has not sent an SOS to the region.”
Zimbabwe has had inconsistent supplies of vaccines in the past two years and farmers have to inoculate cattle every four months for all affected and non-affected animals.
Botswana still enjoys a beef export quota to the lucrative European Union market, while, on the other hand, Zimbabwe suspended beef exports to the EU and other countries in 2001 following FMD outbreaks that affected the State-owned Cold Storage Company’s capacity to deliver its quota.