ZIMBABWEAN farmers are allegedly cutting down border fences to access greener pastures bringing fears of exposing livestock near the SA border to foot and mouth disease.
Limpopo Veterinary Services said on Wednesday that the drought affecting the region was also having an impact on Zimbabwean farmers, and they were allegedly pushing their “starving livestock” into SA across the Limpopo border to graze in the country’s grassy areas on the shoulder of the Limpopo river.
Limpopo, and other provinces are also battling to cope with the severe drought that has seen thousands of hectares of grazing land destroyed.
Records show that at least 3 000 cattle have died because of the drought over the past months, raising fears that desparate Zim farmers could inadvertently spread foot and mouth disease by taking their cattle across the border to graze in the province.
Limpopo Agriculture MEC Joy Matshokge on Wednesdsay said – after meeting with the portfolio committee on Agriculture – that foot and mouth disease cases had increased, “especially in the areas that border with Zimbabwe, of which the increase was fueled by animals mixing with wild animals”.
Nearly 150km of grazing on the shoulder of Limpopo river has been declared a redline for foot and mouth disease.
Matshokge added that the department was trying to “make sure that all the livestock that had “mixed with Zimbabwean” animals should be placed on a quarantine and scrutinised before they are released back to [their]owners.
Farmers and the department were working to address the impact of the drought on their livestock.
However, Matshokge, said the department was struggling because their disaster relief funds had been exhausted, and they were waiting more relief funds to continue with the battle to save livestock.
There have been fights over grazing grounds between SA and Zimbabwean livestock owners who have been . Farmers have accusing each other of stealing cattle and goats.
Matshokge also said there were concerns about how informal livestock farmers would cope with the prevailing severe drought conditions.
She said the Department of Agriculture was engaging with the South African National Defense Force on issues over operating and controlling the borderline to ensure that impact is minimised.
Efforts to get a comment from Zim authorities were unsuccessful. – ANA