The end of the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) epidemic would come as a relief to meat vendors in the northern communal areas, who have been struggling to make ends meet.
Chief veterinarian of the country’s northwest regions Kenneth Shoombe said that the FMD outbreak would be declared over if no new cases were detected between now and January 22. He said the last positive case was detected in July.
The chief veterinarian says spraying anti-FMD chemicals around the northern communal areas has since been stopped and the focus has been put on the Angolan-Namibian border as well as the veterinary cordon fence.
“We have stopped spraying, but the permits to move the animals are still ongoing. We have chosen to rather strengthen spraying at the border posts and the veterinary cordon fence,” said Shoombe.
Eva Kuunasha, a meat vendor at Ohakweenyanga near Ongwediva said the end of FMD would mark a revival of her business. Kuunasha complained that FMD has put severe strain on her business, making it virtually impossible to acquire enough meat to keep the business running daily.
She said before the outbreak she was able to slaughter three head of cattle a day, but she is now able to slaughter only one animal every three days due to market conditions.
She also complained that the public is not well educated about the spread of FMD, charging that throughout the year she faced sarcastic remarks, questioning whether her meat was contaminated or not.
“It was not an easy year, as you could not buy cattle in bulk, because the cattle should be slaughtered within 24 hours. We are not making enough sales nowadays and we also lost customers in the process,” Kuunasha said. She further complained that since the outbreak, meat vendors are not allowed to transport cattle skin.
According to Kuunasha, cattle skin is usually salted to prevent it from drying out and was then sold to a tannery in Ondangwa, “but that has not been happening.”
She said – once weighed – cattle skin can generate up to N$300 each, but since the outbreak, the skins have been left to rot.
“I have lost a lot of money. I now have more than 500 cattle skins that are no longer of any use. The cattle skin generates more money than the meat itself and from this cattle skin I was able to give my employees an extra income,” Kuunasha said.
She was however thrilled to hear that the outbreak could soon be declared over. “We really want this to be over so that we make up for the loss in 2016,” Kuunasha said.