By Charles Tjatindi
The Otjiwarongo Veterinary office under the Ministry of Agriculture, water and Forestry has placed restrictions on the movement of small livestock within the Okakarara constituency, with effect from October 1, 2007.
The restriction prevents the movement of sheep and goats into, or out of, the constituency. The restriction would imply that farmers residing in Okondjatu, Okotjituuo, Ongongoro and Okakarara itself, which all form part of the Okakarara constituency, will not be able sell or buy small stock until further notice.
Speaking to New Era, the Chief Animal Health Technician at Otjiwarongo, Fares Kamupingene, said the restriction was necessary as farmers failed to adhere to set livestock branding and identification requirements.
Part of these requirements, as defined in the stock brand Act 24, of 1995 and its amendments, states that all small livestock should bear an identification mark, such as an ear tag or tattoo to make it easier for tracing and identification purposes.
Kamupingene noted that since the law came into effect in 1995, most farmers had not been complying it.
“Farmers were just not cooperating well. Some would heed the law, and put ear tags on their animals, but others would just not do it,” said Kamupingene.
According to Kamupingene, after inspections were carried out on farms in the Okakarara constituency, it was found that most farmers had not “branded” their small stock.
“We had to do something to put the law into action. Farmers were given enough time to either place ear tags on their animals or to tattoo them. Only some did it, while others were not cooperating,” he noted.
Kamupingene said it was not the first time that his office has had to restrict the movement of small livestock in the Okakarara area. The same restriction was imposed on farmers in this constituency in 2005, when farmers failed to comply with the act.
The State Veterinarian at Otjiwarongo, Dr Esther Muradzikwa, said the ban would only be lifted once inspection reveals that farmers are complying with the act.
“It all depends on them. It can be anything from a few months to much longer,” she said.
New Era learnt that most farmers were reluctant to put ear tags on their livestock, as it apparently makes it easier for thieves to steal them.
Farmers allege that thieves would take the animals from their grazing in the field,and submit them at auctions as they are already tagged. Some farmers also complain that the act disadvantages them, saying it is more suitable for commercial farmers who mainly export their livestock.
According to Dr Muradzikwa however, the act is being implemented across the board and covers every farmer – commercial or communal.
“Communal farmers also export to the EU and other markets indirectly. When commercial farmers buy livestock from them, they then export these livestock,” said Muradzikwa.
The Otjiwarongo Veterinary Office has since instructed other offices in the region not to grant permits for the movement of livestock in the Okakarara constituency.