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Controlled checkpoints will help prevent diseases such as foot-&-mouth and livestock theft, say FSA & RPO

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19 November 2019

The establishment of compartments and controlled checkpoints to prevent the outbreak of animal diseases in the Free State. According to Tommie Esterhuyse, Vice President of Free State Agriculture (FSA), this is some of the proposals that his organisation strongly supports after foot-and-mouth disease broke out again in Limpopo.

He says it would not only protect the province from diseases such as foot-and-mouth, but also help prevent stock theft, especially the transport of livestock to auction lots outside the province. “This will however require that transport permits and the issuing of it, for example where animals move across international and provincial borders, be enforced much more strictly and implemented by the South African Police Service.”

Esterhuyse says FSA and the Free State Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO) express their serious concerns about the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. It is the second time this year the disease broke out in Limpopo and this has resulted in a ban on all livestock auctions in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the North West by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on 14 November 2019.

A proposal on the management of foot-and-mouth disease was the establishment of compartments. Esterhuyse says FSA has communicated this to the provincial RPO, who will pass it on to its national body and various animal health forums.

“It is put on the table of the president that if he is serious about investments in the country, these kinds of problems should be addressed as a matter of urgency,” says Esterhuyse. “Government is responsible for disease control and only effective and purposeful action can strengthen agriculture, which forms part of the backbone of the economy and contribute to job opportunities.”

FSA, the Free State RPO and the National Woolgrowers’ Association of SA held a meeting on 7 November 2019 where various aspects, such as disease control and issues of common interest, were discussed. According to Esterhuyse, cooperation between the organisations, which includes roles and responsibilities, was on the agenda. The aim was also to eliminate duplication of tasks.

Esterhuyse says the Free State is regarded in many circles as the bread basket of the country and the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease can lead to producers once again coming off second best. “The ongoing challenges of this nature, together with political uncertainty and the land issue, do not in any way contribute to the creation of favourable circumstances for food production in the agricultural sector. In fact, this has significant negative effects on food security.”

According to him the drought and outbreak of such diseases also contribute to further job losses.