Windhoek-A two-pronged joint marathon effort by the farming community of communal Okakarara Constituency, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Veterinary Services Department is underway in the constituency to trace in the shortest time possible a buffalo that an Okarui villager saw last Tuesday.
Meantime, the movement of all animals within the constituency and beyond, and from other areas into the constituency, have been banned for an indefinite period. The movement of dairy products as well as fresh raw meat from the constituency has also been banned, informs veterinarian, Meunaje Kaatura, during a current affairs programme on the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC)’s Omurari FM last Friday morning.
Already the rural farming community of the constituency have been activated into action to help government officials to trace the buffalo because tracing it is urgent for the necessary procedure to follow to see whether it is affected with the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) so that cattle could accordingly be vaccinated before the ban on the movement of animals could be lifted. Hence, also the urgency of the veterinary officials that also in the meantime have been unleashed to start inspecting whether animals which may have come in contact with the buffalo have been with FMD or not.
Farmers at Okakarara would never want to see a return to the period when a buffalo was found in the constituency a few years ago virtually bringing the economy of the cattle herding rural community to a standstill because of the ban on the movement of animals, with equally disastrous social consequences.
So negatively impactful was the encroachment of the buffalo and the resultant ban on the movement of animals affecting many things like maintaining learners in schools because parents could not afford school fees.
Life during that period became unbearable for many a farmer so much reliant on the selling of livestock. Not only this but it also became a fad of the time, until this day, to refer to money as onyati (buffalo) with the popular saying “onyati kaiyaranda”, basically translating into “times are hard” financially.
Three years ago the outbreak of FMD in the north also affected the informal economies, especially the kapana (grilled meat) sellers, when the disease broke out in the regions of Ohangwena and Oshikoto, spreading to other regions such Omusati, Oshana, Kunene and Kavango West.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry put up measures to control the spread of the disease to new regions to confine it to those regions where it was detected. Many people selling kapana were then forced to sell fish or chicken.
The disease also had a negative impact on meat exports with traders reluctant to trade because of the outbreak of the disease.
The latest detection of a buffalo at Okakarara practically means that farmers cannot sell their animals effective from the ban even when they were due to sell the animals. Cattle being central to many Otjiherero traditional activities like weddings, this means that these are also affected for now.