Vandalism at Kopano quarantine farm threatens farmers’ access to markets – News

Vandalism at the dilapidated Kopano quarantine farm in the Zambezi region threatens farmers’ continued access to markets.

The Kopano quarantine farm, located 42 kilometers west of Katima Mulilo, is the only operational facility in the region.

This was revealed on Monday by state veterinarian Beatrice Shikongo before the parliamentary standing committee on economy and public administration.

The committee was on a two-day oversight visit to the Zambezi region to address the urgent need to revive the livestock market in Namibia’s Northern Communal Areas (NCA).

Shikongo said they can only rely on the Kopano quarantine farm because the Katima Mulilo quarantine facility is badly vandalized and has not been in use since 2014.

He said the Kopano quarantine farm covers approximately 18,000 hectares and is divided into 12 camps.

“The biggest challenge we have in the Kopano quarantine is the water supply in some fields. We are only using nine camps because the rest do not have water. The quarantine fence is always being vandalized as people breach it and create illegal crossings between Namibia and Zambia. “This also represents a threat to our biosecurity, because if our animals go out through the cut fence, they will be in contact with other animals that are not quarantined,” he said.

He said that through the farm farmers can access markets, since, since it began operating in 2021, to date they have quarantined and slaughtered 3,492 heads of cattle.

“We currently have 940 head of cattle in quarantine. Kopano Quarantine serves the entire Zambezi Region including Mukwe Constituency,” he said.

Furthermore, Shikongo said that through their routine FMD prevention vaccination, which started on February 27, they have vaccinated about 142,850 cattle so far and 90% of the farmers’ cattle have marks on ears.

Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu says the state of the quarantine facility may scare off potential investors concerned about the safety of products from foot-and-mouth-prone areas.

“If they discover that our quarantine facilities are not in good condition, we could be excluded from these markets. Of the 12 fields in Kapano, there is only one well that supplies water. The water in some of these fields is not clean. Community members around the quarantine farm are cutting the fence. We really need the budget for quarantines in the NCA to be up to par,” she says.

Meatco livestock procurement manager Thimotius Kativa told the committee they slaughtered 2,800 cattle in the region last year and paid around $19 million to 387 farmers.

Despite these successes, he said, they are hampered by numerous challenges, such as a shortage of livestock loading points in the region. They also have transportation problems, so they use expensive private trucks.

“The price MeatCo pays farmers in the south is not the same as what is paid here, as the products we produce in the NCA do not have access to lucrative markets. However, as Meatco, we have put forward proposals for the government to introduce a compensation fund where the price we pay in the south should also be paid on this side, and the difference should come from the government. We say this because the government has these restrictions that NCA products cannot circulate freely, so farmers cannot suffer,” he said.

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