Despite the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Limpopo, exports of red meat products, wool, and hides to China will continue.
However, Gerhard Schutte, CEO of the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, said that any further FMD outbreaks could result in a ban on exports to China.
For this reason, spreading disinformation about the outbreaks needed to be prevented at all costs, he said.
For example, people needed to know the difference between an infected animal and an affected animal; the former was infected with FMD, while the latter was kept on the same premises as an infected animal, he stressed.
DOWNLOAD: Know the signs of Foot-and-mouth disease
“Care should be taken not to confuse the issue by assuming that affected animals show the symptoms of FMD. We cannot afford to lose our markets because of disinformation.”
Implementing measures to prevent and contain FMD was also of critical importance. To that end, the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) met with the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (agriculture department), Thoko Didiza, on Friday to discuss the matter.
According to Koos van der Ryst, chairperson of the RMIF, the meeting had been constructive, and consensus was reached on a number of issues.
The first was that the movement of livestock needed to be kept to a minimum.
This meant that the South African Police Service, as well as the South African National Defence Force, would be deployed to control the movement of livestock from Limpopo to North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
This ban would stay in place until the extent of the disease had been determined.
“We need to determine the extent of the problem as quickly as possible. Under the circumstances, the ban on auctions in the affected areas remains in place,” he said.
According to Van der Ryst, a ministerial committee would be set up as soon as possible to determine, manage and mitigate the latest outbreak and the effects thereof.
According to a joint directive issued by the agriculture department and the National Animal Health Forum on 20 November, live cloven-hoofed animals should not be moved until the current situation had been resolved.
In addition, anyone buying animals needed to ensure that the animals purchased were free of disease, and all transactions of cloven-hoofed animals needed to be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate.
Transport vehicles also needed to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before animals were loaded, as the FMD virus could remain viable in the environment for a few days.
In terms of Section 11 of the Animal Diseases Act of 1984, it was the responsibility of “any owner or manager of land on which there are animals to take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of disease”.
Anyone spreading FMD through the illegal movement of animals could thus be held civilly and/or criminally liable for such an offence, he said.