Agricultural minister Thoko Didiza is campaigning to put measures in place to fight against the spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in South Africa. This after the country saw an unprecedented outbreak of FMD in five of its provinces in recent months.
Didiza yesterday met with the Limpopo provincial government led by the Premier, Chupu Stanley Mathabatha. The province have had identified cases of FMD since 2018.
“We need to manage the challenge we are facing as a country on the spread of foot and mouth disease in the four provinces,” Didiza said.
“We are particularly interested in Limpopo because there has been identified cases since 2018 up to now. We need serious intervention. Our role here is to work and give comfort to stakeholders, especially the farmers, on how we are managing it.”
Didiza went on to say that the need to curb the spread and contain the disease arises out of wanting to protect the market share of livestock, as well as to ensure that farmers – especially emerging black farmers – are protected.
“By containing the spread, we shall be able to manage the current ban on South African meat as it has negatively affected the agricultural output and revenue.”
Due to the various outbreaks identified in KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Limpopo and Gauteng, neighbouring countries Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana have banned the imports of meat and animal products from South Africa.
Further abroad China was the most recent country to announce it is banning South Africa’s wool and meat exports.
“As a result, we called a multidisciplinary team involving the office of the Premier, provincial treasury, provincial economic development, environment and tourism to see what it is that we are not managing, allowing this crisis to reach where it is,” Didiza said.
How FMD spreads in Limpopo
In Limpopo the identified problem contributing to the spread of FMD, the department said, was the border between Kruger National Park and the farms and households bordering the park.
Buffaloes are known to be high carrier of the disease. Access to areas with buffalo and the seeming mixing with cattle leads to the spread of the disease.
In addition, the department said that the movement of livestock from identified restricted areas to others that were free is a major contributing factor to the spread.
Mathabatha has welcomed the intervention saying that agriculture was one of the pillars in the province’s development plan.
“Any matter that threatens this part affects the general economic outlook and the recovery of our province, hence the importance of this meeting.
The premier said he has asked the departments of agriculture and rural development, provincial treasury and Limpopo economic development to work as a multi-disciplinary team to attend to the outbreak as a crisis.
“We need to claim back this share and not lose interest of our produce from international and national consumers,” he said.
Emergency plan for rural areas
During her visit, Didiza also met with the Limpopo house of traditional leaders led by Kgoshi Malesela Dikgale. From the session they agreed on a quick interaction, within the next two weeks, with other traditional leaders in Vhembe and Mopani.
Dikgale said government was assisting them as leaders since members of the community were not able to sell their livestock.
“This is not the government’s problems alone; it is our own people that are affected and we are willing to partner to put to an end to this flood called foot-and-mouth disease through immediate meetings in Mopani and Vhembe districts,” Dikgale said. A team has been put in place to work on an emergency plan to create FMD outbreak awareness in these communities.
Meanwhile Reggie Ngcobo, spokesperson for the national department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, has confirmed to Food For Mzansi that the recommendations report from the technical task team on biosecurity for animal health would be released during a media briefing on Tuesday, 3 May.
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