Okavango District Council (ODC) Chairperson Gaopalelwe Ronald has welcomed government’s decision to subsidise acaricides and antibiotics for the control and treatment of amblyomma (bont-tick) and demartophylosis (senkobo) in Okavango and North West.
Following the declaration of 2023/24 as a drought year, government through the ministry of Agriculture implemented a 50% subsidy for senkobo and bont tick antibiotics and treatment as of the 25th of July until January 2024.
Surveillance carried out across Okavango and North West to determine the extent of senkombo and bont tick in high risk extension areas turned out that the disease which initially started in the eastern panhandle had spread to Gumare, Tubu, Etsha 6 and Beetsha extension areas and later to the Shorobe areas.
Bont tick and Senkombo infested the Okavango area causing misery to farmers in Eretsha and Beetsha in the Eastern panhandle of the Okavango delta, as they have lost many of their livestock, particularly cattle.
In an interview Ronald expressed his gratitude to the government’s efforts adding that the subsidy comes in handy since Okavango District is among districts with high numbers of disadvantaged and marginalized communities who were unable to purchase the antibiotics and acaricides to save their livestock.
He noted that the poor rainfalls have also affected the farmers as they mostly rely on rain fed horticultural farming. Owing to this challenges Ronald stressed that farmers have been unable to purchase the antibiotics.
The chairman has however urged the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board to conduct mobile sale centres for the antibiotics across the eastern panhandle to address shortages as well as to reduce the amount of travel expenses incurred by farmers to access the antibiotics elsewhere.
“During my consultative meetings across the district, farmers have showed that they are experiencing challenges to access the antibiotics, so it would be handy if BAMB conducts mobile sales centres across the villages,” Ronald noted.
Meanwhile Ronald has also applauded the department of veterinary services (DVS) for its continued efforts to mitigate the situation by capacitating the farming community through trainings and demonstrations at crush level on how to dip and treat their animals.
He has since urged farmers to cooperate with officials and meet the government’s efforts halfway also pleading with them to report any unusual symptoms they may notice from their livestock.