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Livestock: the soul of Namibian farmers – Business

For generations, livestock have not just grazed Namibia’s vast landscapes, but have been the foundation on which countless families and communities have built their lives.

These animals are more than livestock: they are a source of sustenance and a symbol of hope and prosperity passed down from generation to generation.

But this vital role is threatened by a silent enemy: contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBP), a highly contagious and deadly disease that has affected Namibian cattle since the first reported case in 1887.

Mbendo Markus, a farmer from Ndara in the western Kavango region, knows the value of livestock and does not take it for granted.

“They are everything to us,” he says, his voice full of concern. “They provide milk and meat to my family and the income from their sale covers our needs and allows me to send my children to school. “If something happened to my flock, it would be like losing a part of myself.”

Erika Tjiseua from Oruvandje in the Kunene region shares Mbendo’s concerns.

“Diseases like contagious bovine pleuropneumonia are a constant threat,” he says.

“My livestock is my life. They support me and my family. That is why I urge all farmers, especially those in remote areas, to be vigilant. If you suspect your animals might be sick, you should immediately contact the nearest veterinary offices.

“Early detection can make a difference as it would stop the spread of the disease.”

DEVASTATING IMPACT

The most recent cases of CBPP in Namibia were first detected in the Ncamangoro and Musese constituencies of the Kavango West region in February 2022.

Ranchers in these areas reported that their cattle were exhibiting symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing, and severe lung damage and, in some extreme cases, death.

This early detection prompted swift action by the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Agrarian Reform.

This included a rapid response to contain the outbreak through the deployment of surveillance teams to establish the extent of the outbreak in the region, vaccination campaigns and the mobilization of resources, including those from partners such as the Food Organization of the United Nations. and Agriculture. (FAO) to ensure that the disease is effectively contained.

Recognizing the devastating impact of CBPP, FAO responded to the DVS call for support.

Through the project titled ‘Emergency technical support to control the spread of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in Namibia’, FAO has been working together with the DVS to combat this disease.

“This project is a crucial collaboration between FAO and DVS,” says Eugene Kanguatjivi, FAO national project coordinator.

“We are providing technical expertise, resources and training to strengthen veterinary services and empower farmers to protect their flocks.

“Ultimately, our goal is to safeguard the health of Namibia’s livestock and its trade to secure the future of countless families who depend on it for their livelihoods.”

MULTI-CASE APPROACH

With support from FAO, DVS is tackling CBPP on multiple crucial fronts.

Improved surveillance is an important component in the fight against the disease.

Through the project, FAO is strengthening the capacity of the DVS to better detect and diagnose future CBPP outbreaks.

To achieve this, FAO is providing training to veterinary staff on effective disease surveillance techniques, improving the ability to monitor and respond to potential outbreaks.

In addition, FAO is also assisting the DVS to implement its strategic vaccination campaigns, particularly in high-risk areas in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) of Namibia.

These targeted vaccines play an important role in developing herd immunity and preventing future CBPP outbreaks.

Equipping farmers with knowledge has also been a key aspect of the fight against CBPP.

FAO has also supported the DVS in carrying out awareness campaigns to equip farmers with the skills necessary to identify the early signs of the disease.

These campaigns were carried out in various communities within the ANC.

Through these campaigns, farmers have learned how to quickly report suspected cases to enable rapid response measures in the future.

The campaigns also emphasized the implementation of basic biosecurity measures for farmers to protect their flocks, contributing to overall disease prevention efforts.

PROVIDING HOPE

Working together, FAO and DVS are bringing hope to thousands of Namibian farmers.

As Dr Paul Set, DVS State Veterinarian, highlighted: “FAO’s support is essential in our ongoing efforts to control CBPP outbreaks.

“Together we are working to improve disease surveillance and diagnosis, vaccination campaigns and farmer education. These efforts will not only protect the herds, but will also ensure the continued prosperity of rural communities throughout Namibia.”

The success of these interventions depends not only on technical solutions, but also on the resilience and spirit of Namibian farmers like Mbendo and Erika.

With the right support and knowledge, these farmers can become the first line of defense against CBPP, ensuring their livestock – the lifeblood of their communities – continue to thrive for generations to come.

– Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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