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- Veterinary officer uses council meeting to attack farmers
- DVS came to the party late – Farmers
- Farmers blame DVS for the loss of thousands of cattle
In a surprise turn of events, the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) has blamed farmers in the Okavango district for the wide spread of bont tick, or senkobo also locally known as ‘be mobile’ in the area, that has caused thousands of cattle mortalities.
Addressing Okavango District full council meeting, Principal Veterinary Officer II Dr Emmanuel Ramokwena said that poor husbandry practices and lack of commitment by farmers contributed to the spread of the tropical tick.
The tropical bont was first localised around the Tubu/ Gumare area where it was also associated with dermatophylosis cases and increased mortalities in livestock. It has since spread to other areas of zone 2c.
According Ramokwena, dermatophylosis or “senkobo” is a cutaneous skin disease caused by a bacterium dermatophylosis congolensis. The disease is spread by direct contact of formites, fleas and ticks. Spread of the disease is associated with increase of bont tick- amblyomma variegatum infestation in livestock. Treatment with a minimum of 3 doses of long acting oxytetracyclines has shown recovery in affected livestock.
“Limited efforts by farmers to procure dips and antibiotics as well as poor compliance to dipping and treatment protocols have exacerbated the situation,” Ramokwena noted.
Furthermore, Ramokwena added that unfavourable weather conditions, such as rainfall has made dipping and treating exercises almost impossible further adding that the department has also had a problem of resource limitations in terms of transport.
He indicated that during an intensive surveillance carried out across the district to determine the extent of dermatophilosis and bont tick in high risk extension areas, it turned out that there are an increasing number of amblyomma and dermatophilosis cases in Gumare, Tubu, Etsha 6 and Beetsha extension areas.
In efforts to mitigate the situation Ramokwena revealed that their department continues to capacitate the farming community through trainings and demonstrations at crush level to enable the community to dip and treat their animals. He added that a total of eight teams have since been mobilised to facilitate farmers with dipping and treating.
“The team’s role is to train the farmers on how to properly dip their animals and provide the treatment regime using both government and farmers medicine. We have procured acaricides and antibiotics to use during farmers training (demonstrations) and capacity building as well as to augment farmer’s efforts on control of amblyomma and dermatophilosis,” Ramokwena noted.
He noted that a total of 426 farmers from across the district have received training and a total of 10890 cattle have been dipped in the Shakawe and Gumare extension areas. He added that during the trainings they have recorded a total of 694 cattle mortalities.
Ramokwena indicated that they are implementing stakeholders engagements through Kgotla meetings and other forums. He added that Kgotla meetings have already been held in Beetsha, Eretsha and Gunotsoga to address farmers on the bont tick and dermatophylosis control.
Meanwhile, farmers are not surprised at the blame game from DVS on the spread of the bont tick. They allege that when a disease gets out of control, the department’s easy way out is to blame farmers.
One of the local farmers Tebogo Seeko from Eretsha shifted the blame to the veterinary department indicating that farmers long reported the outbreak to the veterinary authorities but they responded late.
“We have long reported the matter to the department in 2021 when we started experiencing mortalities however they did not respond, they responded after realising that the situation was getting out of hand,” Seeko said.
Seeko has however acknowledged the department’s capacity building workshops and stake holder engagements, but has called on the department to normalise responding swiftly to farmer’s reports to avoid such situations.