‘The presence of transboundary animal diseases, and the escalating costs of regulation and meeting export standards, is key to the future of livestock production in Africa . . . and especially meeting the high hopes of the “livestock revolution” . . . . Focusing on the case of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in southern Africa – and specifically Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – this paper explores the trade-offs arising from disease control strategies directed towards promoting different scenarios for beef marketing and trade. A central question is: does the current approach, premised on the ability to separate a “disease-free” commercial sector from other areas through strictly-enforced zones and movement control, make sense given new contexts and challenges?
‘Conventional policy thinking holds that FMD-free countries are rich, while countries with FMD are not; without resources to control FMD and enter lucrative markets, FMD keeps countries poor, and the benefi ts of the livestock revolution cannot be attained. This, it is argued, is a vicious circle and one which justifi es substantial public investment in disease control and eradication strategies, in order to gain area-based “disease freedom”. However, the question arises: given limited resources and growing costs of meeting export standards, does it make sense to persist with the status quo and attempt to ensure area-based disease freedom? Indeed, given the presence of FMD infection in buffalo and other wildlife populations, is disease eradication even feasible? Given these constraints are there other alternatives that benefit a wider group of producers, ensure food-safe trade, and are easier to implement, yet maintain access to important export markets and foreign exchange revenues, enabling the integration of wildlife and livestock?
‘These questions respond to a series of contemporary policy dilemmas, all high on policy makers’ agendas in southern Africa: how should animal diseases be managed in the context of expanding wildlife land-uses (and so more buffalo and other game) and redistributive land reform (and so more, smaller land units with mobile animals)? Should a country attempt to comply with very demanding and apparently ever-increasing international export standards or explore alternative markets and different interpretations of standards regimes? How should all this be implemented when veterinary services and regulatory authorities are weak and under-resourced?
‘This paper seeks to provide some preliminary answers to these questions – or at least a framework for thinking about them. . . .’
Read the whole paper in Pastoralism, Foot-and-mouth disease and market access: Challenges for the beef industry in southern Africa, July 2010.