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Hygiene will curb animal diseases

Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Tawatchai Prakobkit

The latest outbreak of the highly contagious avian flu affecting at least six commercial farms in Gauteng, Western Cape and North West should not be undermined as it will affect the sector negatively. The department of agriculture, land reform and rural development has called on the implementation of stringent hygiene practices across most farms in the country.

SA has been suffering frequent outbreaks of avian influenza, foot and mouth diseases (FMD) and African swine fever. There is no shortage of evidence that these diseases have hindered agricultural trade and results in substantial losses for our producers and farmers. SA’s poultry industry might find itself facing more bird flu outbreaks similar to the 2017 crisis, which reportedly cost farmers close to R2bn.

Even though Statistics SA reported recently that agricultural gross-value added grew by 13.1%, which surpassed the initial expectation of 10% by the analysts in the sector, minister Thoko Didiza noted with concerns that animal and plant health has become a challenge facing agricultural sector during her budget vote speech recently.

Didiza emphasised that putting up early warning systems, rapid response mechanisms and control measures are important for our country to protect production, environment and trade. Didiza indicated that dealing with the FMD, the Agricultural Research Council has now approved an implementation plan for the design, construction and commissioning of the new foot and mouth disease vaccine production facility.

 “Upon completion, this facility will provide the country with an important tool to combat the outbreak of this disease and accelerate livestock production for adequate market access and trade,” said Didiza.

 Mphahlela M Rammutla, Pretoria

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