As we continue to put all our efforts into the fight against Covid-19 to save lives and the South African economy, we can’t ignore a second epidemic that is threatening half a million jobs in the beef industry: bovine brucellosis. Agricultural economist Lunathi Hlakanyane joins Mzansi’s favourite agriculture podcast this week to discuss this “silent epidemic”.
Bovine brucellosis, formally brucella abortus or simply B. Abortus, is a pathogen that affects both cattle and humans.
“As the name suggests, B. Abortus causes abortion in cows and may increase the probability of miscarriage in humans,” says Hlakanyane in his interview on Food For Mzansi’s Farmer’s Inside Track podcast.
“The disease is also linked to reduced milk production, as well as a general lower reproduction rate amongst cattle,” adds Hlakanyane.
As a zoonotic infection, the main vectors of brucellosis are direct contact with infected animals’ biological fluids, such as blood, placenta, and urine, as well as unpasteurised or raw dairy products.
“As with Covid-19, the disease causes fever-like symptoms, including flu, weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss,” says Hlakanyane. “Infection is particularly high among livestock farm workers, hunters and veterinarians who come in direct contact with free range animals.”
Besides being a massive public health risk, the disease could severely impact margins in the multi-billion-rand beef value chain. In addition to this, there are about half a million people employed in the beef industry, and a further 2,1 million who depend on it for their livelihood.
“The emergence of brucellosis casts a very dark cloud over them,” says Hlakanyane.
Besides the economic impact, the outbreak of brucellosis is a huge food security risk as it compromises nutritious food access to the millions of South Africans who derive their protein intake from beef consumption, warns Hlakanyane.
Listen to the full interview on this week’s Farmer’s Inside Track podcast. Find the links to the podcast below.
Other podcast highlights:
This week’s Farmer’s Inside Track also has other highlights for the agricultural sector:
- In this week’s episode – Hydroponics 101! Hydroponics is a way to skip the soil, sub in a different material to support the roots of the plant, and grow crops directly in nutrient-rich water. Cool, right? Journalist Dona van Eeden chats to Western Cape hydroponics farmer Byron Booysen about everything you need to know to set up a hydroponics farm.
- Nigerian farmer and founder of USAIFA Agro-Allied, a farm focused on practicing and promoting zero waste agriculture, Usman Lawan, unpacks why he thinks the future of farming is not farming. He debunks some of the most strongly held myths and practices about the food production industry in Nigeria this week on Farmer’s Inside Track.
- Farmer’s tip of the week: Eastern Cape grain farmer Sinelizwi Fakade gives us the 101 about building retailer and supplier relationships.
- Book of the week: Farmers choose Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek as their book of the week. In 2009 Simon started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers.
- App of the week: Agricultural drone pilot Ziphezinhle Gabuza, better known as Boyzee, from Kwazulu-Natal, joined the FIT team to talk about a new app he developed called Farm Care. The app aims to assist new farmers to keep record of all their farm management practices.
- Mzansi Flavour: Shaistah Khan, home cook and micro-blogger, shares her secret ingredient to cook the perfect Mzansi home cooked meal!
How to listen to Farmer’s Inside Track
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