The backlog of outstanding allowances for casual labourers employed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) during the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) last year has now been resolved.
Acting permanent secretary of the MAWF Abraham Nehemia confirmed on Monday that the ministry received approximately 800 cheques from the Ministry of Finance for distribution to the casual labourers.
The cheques were sent to MAWF regional offices between February 18 and 19.
The casual labourers who assisted MAWF during the FMD outbreak are, therefore, advised to collect their cheques at MAWF offices in their respective regions.
The casual workers assisted with the vaccination campaign for FMD and Nehemia expressed his sincere gratitude for their patience, cooperation and support.
Last year’s devastating outbreak of the dreaded FMD highlighted the fact that Namibia is spending N$600 million annually to import vaccines and pharmaceuticals for its livestock sector.
A delegation from China visited Namibia during the outbreak last year to help determine whether the country would be able to establish its very own vaccine production facility.
The emphasis of the vaccine facility would be on producing vaccines against FMD, as well as lung sickness and brucellosis.
A delegation from Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group (AFECC) and Jinyu Mission to Namibia will determine if such a vaccine plant can be established in Namibia and how it will be done.
The Namibian government had already as far back as 2005 identified the production of FMD vaccine as a strategic undertaking in the country.
A 100-hectare plot at Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region has been purchased for the construction of a vaccine production facility and research laboratory.
However, the project could not proceed, as Namibia needs a competent technical partner and it appears to have now found one in China.
Agriculture Minister John Mutorwa last August visited state-of-the-art vaccine production facilities of the Jinyu Group in HonHot in the inner Mongolian province of China. China is among the world’s largest producers of livestock vaccine, a very complicated and expensive undertaking.
It takes meticulous attention to detail to design and construct a vaccine production plant that can optimally produce vaccine, while ensuring animal health and environmental safety.
It is, therefore, not surprising that such technologies are not readily available for purchase on the commercial market.
In fact, most livestock vaccine producers in the developing world opt to remain in strategic partnerships with well-established manufacturers in the developed world, so as to benefit from much needed research and innovation and thus remain relevant and competitive in what they produce.
The need for livestock vaccines cannot be over-emphasised. The outbreak of FMD in the north-central parts of Namibia in May 2015 is clear evidence of how an outbreak of a disease, like FMD, can disrupt people’s livelihoods, whilst erasing meagre sources of income.
Mutorwa said the N$600 million spent annually to import vaccines and pharmaceuticals is necessitated by the fact the country has a growing and vibrant livestock sector, composed of approximately two million cattle, four million goats and 2.6 million sheep.
The minister said due to the obvious growth in the livestock sector the aim is to attract investment into the livestock vaccine and pharmaceutical industries in order to ensure the long-term sustainability and security of the Namibian livestock sector and to position the country to one day become a net exporter of animal vaccines.