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Farmers in Ngamiland who lost thousands of their cattle to bovine dermatophilosis disease, Senkobo, a common livestock disease that have been ravaging the North West and Okavango Districts have pleaded with the government to consider compensating them in order for their losses to get back on their feet and re-stock their livestock, particularly cattle lost due to the disease.
The disease was detected in the Okavango panhandle area in 2015, coinciding with the appearance of the bont tick (Amblyoma spp), previously unknown in the region. A large number of livestock has died since the outbreak in 2015. Although the exact number is not known, it estimated at over 4000 livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys) have died in the past year alone.
The eastern panhandle of the Okavango delta is the most affected, further exacerbating the high poverty levels in the area as most locals depend on livestock farming.
The Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) in collaboration with the Boehringer-Ingelheim (BI) recently launched a long acting Topline Dip aimed at controlling the bovine dermatophilosis disease (senkobo) in Boro settlement.
Speaking during the launch Kgosi Motswagole Mokgwathi of Boro who is also a farmer pleaded with government to consider compensating farmers who lost their cattle to the disease. He indicated that the disease has left most farmers destitute.
In an interview on the sidelines of the launch, a farmer from the Eastern Panhandle Lemphorwana Semolemo shared the same sentiments, lamenting that the disease has crippled farmers leaving most kraals empty.
He believes that compensation will greatly help the less privileged farmers to get on their feet and revive the livestock sector. Semolemo is of the view that the department of veterinary services was slow to act though he is uncertain if it was because they were not familiar with it or they were just being unproductive.
Meanwhile, Agriculture minister Fidelis Molao applauded BVI and BI for cooperating and making strides in the research and development of vaccines for Botswana and the continent.
Molao encouraged farmers to form syndicates and stablish dip tanks at strategic location advising them to also take advantage of programmes such as the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development to construct dip tanks.
He further called on farmers to ensure absolute commitment to sustain dipping and be observant to the animals for infestations and early appearance of the disease. He noted that the government has decided to assist famers with free dips and antibiotics treatment as a short term response to control the outbreak.
Senkobo causes severe animal suffering, and if untreated, can cause mortalities and serious economic losses and is easily treatable by antibiotics, and even more easily preventable by removing predisposing factors, for example by dipping of livestock by farmers to control ticks.
In the Chobe region where Senkobo is endemic, Minister Molao said government support is limited to extension messaging on application of dips to control tick infestation and treatment of stricken animals. He said in the Okavango region, the condition has however been spreading due to lack of sustained control effort.
“Admittedly this may have been due to inadequate extension messaging and education of farmers. For example, there is evidence that a significant number of farmers have been under-dosing the dips and antibiotics, or failing to dip frequently enough to suppress tick infestation.”