Kunene farmers want red line gone

Farmers in the Kunene Region have called for the zoning of Kunene North, saying the area has been free of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) for the past 50 years. The farmers suggested that dividing the red line districts into portions would aid the government's efforts to eradicate FMD and other diseases and maintained that the fence deprives them of the lucrative meat market Southerners enjoy. These sentiments were expressed by Ben Kapi, vice president of the Ngatuuane Farmers Union during an oversight visit and consultative meeting with stakeholders in the Kunene Region arranged by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics and Administration on Monday in Opuwo. Kapi, on behalf of the farmers, urged all parties concerned to devise long-term solutions, including effective animal disease management methods, before demolishing the fence, asserting that Kunene should be designated independently considering it is free of FMD. He stated that while the red line, or veterinary cordon fence, was erected per i nternational animal health regulations to prevent the spread of diseases, it should be dismantled to safeguard the meat sector and increase sales north of the red line. 'The red line residents have been treated unfairly compared to other farmers. What we want is the same treatment for us to also enjoy the market,' he said. According to Kapi, farmers gave the government several optionis to boost the meat market within the red line, including the quarantining of animals before sales and fencing and zoning of disease-prone areas such as the Zambezi, Kavango East, and West regions. In response, Natangwe Ithete, head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics and Administration, stated that the government's goal is to eliminate the red line. 'We also want this fence to go and it will go, however, if we should decide now to remove the fence, our meat sales might be affected as our buyers might be affected as per the international standards with regards to livestock health, but what I can promise is th at the fence will go,' stated Ithete. The red line separates northern Namibia from the central and southern parts of the country and envelopes several northern regions, including Oshana, Kavango East, Omusati, Zambezi, Omaheke, Kunene, and parts of the Khomas and Oshikoto Regions. Source: The Namibia Press Agency