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EU injects P72m into fight against FMD

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Money will be used to consolidate FMD-free zones and improve traceability of cattle owners

TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO

The European Union has approved €6 million under its Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Botswana, which is approximately P72 million, for use in the country’s fight to eradicate Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), The Botswana Gazette has established.
According to a communique from the EU, the money will help consolidate the integrity of the FMD-free zones through an improved implementation of the Botswana Animal Information and Traceability System (BAITS). It will also be used to support beef value chains and the roll-out of commodity-based trade approach that is currently being piloted in Ngamiland.
The issue announcement comes shortly after President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State of Nation Address (SONA) last week in which he noted that the outbreak of livestock diseases, particularly FMD, continued to haunt Botswana’s livestock industry, limiting livestock movement with intermittent barriers to export markets.
Both the EU and President Masisi have noted the need to improve BAITS in order to enhance its functionality and facilitate offline access by farmers and extension officers. “This is expected to enable registration of communal holdings and geo-referencing, thus giving communal farmers’ direct access to the European Union (EU) market,” said the President in his address to Parliament. “At least 60 BAITS cafes have been established around the country to improve animal information capturing and permit the issuance, especially in rural areas.”
BAITS was introduced by the government in 2014 to improve identification of cattle, capture all vaccinated cattle and make traceability of cattle owners easier.
Meanwhile, the board of Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU) recently met in a workshop in Gaborone to discuss the transformation and liberalisation of the beef sector and how to ensure effective participation of beef producers in the process of privatising the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC). The workshop was supported by the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
The Ambassador of the EU to Botswana, Jan Sadek, in a statement said “The EU recognises the beef value chain for its potential towards inclusive growth and job creation. To unlock the potential offered by the beef industry, the EU acknowledges the need to reform the sector through the liberalisation of the meat industry, including privatisation of the Botswana Meat Commission. This reform is necessary to ensure that the sector is profitable and to reduce the BMC’s dependence on state subsidies. It is crucial that beef producers, through the BNBPU, have a say in the industry reforms.” the restructuring of BMC,
President Masisi also touched upon privatisation of the BMC in his SONA, saying the government had adopted a Beef Cluster Strategy that calls for separation of the linked abattoirs of Lobatse, Maun and Francistown as a part of restructuring the parastatal towards its privatisation.

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