New FMD research facility announced

Treasury has allocated R50 million for a new foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) research and vaccine manufacturing facility. The announcement was made by Peter Thabethe, former acting director general for agriculture, during a recent media briefing at parliament.

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The Agricultural Research Council and Onderstepoort Biological Products are responsible for FMD research and vaccine manufacture, but because of a lack of skills, funds and capacity at the parastatals, South Africa has become reliant on FMD vaccine imported from Botswana, said Thabethe.

The new facility will again ensure we have the capacity to perform research and development functions and produce an adequate amount of vaccine, he added.

Agriculture minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has said she was concerned about the status of agricultural research in the country. According to her, the department is planning to reopen all agricultural colleges which have closed down in recent years, starting with the North West college, which will be reopened at the start of the next academic year.

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