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    EU suspends Swazi beef imports amid foot and mouth disease fears

    APA-Mbabane (Swaziland)

    The European Union has banned beef imports from Swaziland following a suspected foot-and-mouth disease outbreak allegedly caused by three buffaloes donated to the country by Zambian President Edgar Lungu early this month.

    Agriculture Minister Moses Vilakati confirmed the suspension in a statement on Tuesday.

    “When the buffalos arrived into the country they were accompanied by documents certifying that they had tested negative for the disease,” Vilakati said.

    The minister however said the Swazi government is taking precautionary measures “and we have since taken their blood samples for further tests to be conducted in South Africa where we seek to confirm the initial test results.”

    The buffaloes are being kept under quarantine in Malindza in the Lubombo region of Swaziland.

    The minister said all animals that utilise dip tanks located within a radius of 10 kilometres from where the buffalos are have been quarantined too.

    Swaziland Meat Industries, the country’s major beef exporter, has meanwhile suspended all cattle purchases from farmers and the payments of export bonuses until further notice.

    Vilakati said the embargo is expected to affect local beef farmers in a big way.

    In 2001 the EU placed a three-month ban on all beef imports from Swaziland following the kingdom's failure to contain an outbreak of the same disease.

    The Zambian president has been King Mswati III’s guest twice in a period of three months as he came here in June and in August 2017 where he participated in the International Trade Fair and the annual Reed Dance ceremony.

    The buffalos arrived in Swaziland on September 3 after the Zambian leader saw the need to donate them and assist Swaziland increase its buffalo population, a move that is aimed at strengthening tourism in the country through wildlife.


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