Elita Chikwati – Agriculture Reporter
GOVERNMENT, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation and other stakeholders, are in the process of formulating a National Foot-and-Mouth Disease Control Strategy to control the disease and fully exploit the potential trade opportunities that exist with improved livestock production and health.
This comes after Zimbabwe lost its beef export markets due to consecutive FMD outbreaks.
Officiating at the multi-stakeholder workshop for the development of the strategy recently, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Secretary, Ringson Chitsiko said the disease remained a threat to economic performance at both local and international levels.
He said FMD was an infectious disease of global interest and affected productivity in intensive production systems.
“It therefore threatens economic performance at farm and national levels. FMD is trade-sensitive, with important socio-economic implications. It is for these reasons that the State has an interest in it.
“We have continued to lend budgetary support for FMD control each year even under harsh economic conditions,” he said.
Mr Chitsiko said a clear and implementable strategy would allow partners to determine their investment interest levels in a broader National Veterinary Strategy as indicated in the Veterinary Service performance and gap analysis carried out a few years ago.
“The ministry expects the strategy to be based on today’s realities balanced with other policy priorities, current scientific understanding, a shared national vision and objectives.
“It must also be one which is compatible with our regional and international commitment for disease control and in order to enable us to exploit opportunities arising with respect to trade.
“The success of any animal disease control programme also depends on the level of its economic soundness and participation of stakeholders, who must not only share the interest but be part of the vision and participate in complying with measures necessary for effective control, prevention and or eradication,” he said.
Food and Agriculture Organisation representative, Mr David Mfote said Zimbabwe had experienced incessant FMD outbreak.
The disease has spread to six of the country’s provinces despite Government efforts to control outbreaks through vaccination campaigns and enforcement of strict movement restrictions.
“The Department of Livestock Veterinary Services has managed to reduce the impact of FMD despite challenges in accessing adequate resources to fund disease control programs,” he said.
Mr Mfote said FAO was committed to participate in the control of trans-boundary animal diseases and improving livelihoods through the control of FMD.
“At local level, FAO through various donors has offered FMD support from 2006 to date.
“More recently, Government has received support for FMD and Anthrax disease control through assistance that has come through several projects.
FMD was first detected in the country in 1931.