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Botswana and Uganda Join Hooves: Collaboration on FMD Vaccine Paves Way for Stronger Agricultural Ties

by Grace Kisembo

A beacon of hope has emerged for cattle farmers across East and Southern Africa as Botswana and Uganda join forces in the fight against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). This collaborative effort, spearheaded by scientists from both nations, signifies a deepening of agricultural ties between the two countries.

FMD, a highly contagious viral disease affecting livestock, has long been a thorn in the side of African cattle production, causing significant economic losses. The partnership, announced following a meeting between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Botswanan counterpart, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, aims to develop a vaccine specifically tailored to combat FMD strains prevalent in Uganda.

“We are excited about this collaboration,” said Dr. Makganedi Mokopasetso, Technical Director of the Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI). “Our institute has a proven track record of vaccine development, and we believe our expertise, coupled with Ugandan research capabilities, can lead to a breakthrough.”

Botswana boasts a well-established reputation for producing effective FMD vaccines. The BVI’s success in this area piqued Ugandan interest, particularly as the East African nation grapples with recurring outbreaks.

“This partnership is a win-win for both countries,” emphasized Ugandan Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze. “Not only will a Ugandan-specific vaccine benefit our farmers, but it also opens doors for knowledge exchange and potential future collaborations in broader agricultural development.”

The collaborative effort extends beyond vaccine development. Scientists from both nations will be collecting samples from Ugandan cattle affected by FMD, allowing for a more targeted approach in vaccine design. This joint effort signifies a shift towards a more integrated approach to tackling agricultural challenges across Africa.

“This initiative is a prime example of how African nations can leverage their combined strengths for mutual benefit,” said Dr. Josephine Makolo, a leading agricultural economist at the University of Pretoria. “By fostering regional cooperation, we can create a more resilient and productive agricultural sector across the continent.”

The success of the Botswana-Uganda collaboration has the potential to serve as a model for future partnerships. With combined resources and expertise, African nations can address critical agricultural issues and pave the way for a food-secure future.

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