Jwaneng, Botswana – Botswana’s first-ever rural veterinary disease diagnostic laboratory, opened here last week, will contribute to food security, nutrition and increased beef exports through the use of serological, molecular, nuclear and nuclear derived techniques for the early and rapid diagnosis of various animal diseases.
The satellite laboratory, which is located at the edge of the famous Kalahari desert, will eventually serve farmers in the western third of the country. It will use equipment donated by the IAEA. It will bring veterinary diagnostic services closer to farmers, thus improving disease control, said Chandapiwa Marobela-Raborokgwe, head of the Botswana National Veterinary Laboratory at the inauguration ceremony of the new laboratory on 8 July. “Early and accurate diagnosis of transboundary and endemic diseases is paramount for disease control, and having a robust surveillance regime in place is necessary for the maintenance of our export markets,” she said.
Beef is the most important agricultural export commodity in the country, which has 3 million cattle and 1.6 million goats for its 2 million people. The European Union is the largest and most lucrative market for Botswana’s beef.
Sending samples to the national laboratory in the capital Gaborone contributes to delays in turnaround time for testing and providing farmers with the results. Also, sometimes samples arrive in substandard condition and are no longer fit for analysis, Marobela-Raborokgwe said. The country’s Ministry of Agriculture has therefore decided to open satellite labs in different parts of the country, bringing services closer to farmers. “This is key to fighting disease,” said Emmanuel Adom, Principlal Veterinary Officer of Botswana’s Southern District, which includes Jwaneng. “We will pick up any emerging diseases more quickly.”