Agriculture Department must urgently address shortage of foot and mouth disease vaccines

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Member on the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development
13 Jan 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP.

Given the serious concerns of the agriculture sector and promises from government, the DA calls on the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to urgently address the shortage of locally produced foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccines and other much needed livestock vaccines for diseases like Rift Valley fever, bluetongue disease, and others.

Urgent attention must also be paid to the poor management of the Onderstepoort Biological Product (OBP) and Agricultural Research Council (ARC), which were meant to support livestock farmers, and to finish building the promised FMD vaccines facility so that these vaccines can be produced locally.

The DA has raised these concerns in the past, with little intervention from DALRRD.

Agriculture is one of the very few sectors that has grown economically and it’s providing most of the new employment opportunities in South Africa. The sector is expected to continue on a positive trajectory for the next couple of years, with the livestock industry doing particularly well. It provides the best opportunity to accelerate transformation in agriculture, but unless government takes the prevention of diseases like FMD seriously, it may end up creating an overstocking of non-tradeable livestock commodity because of the poor management of animal health.

Even farmers with access to the best veterinary services are bound to fail without locally produced vaccines to ensure the good health of their animals.

The DA has called on the government to work on improving biosecurity, especially in the FMD zone.

DALRRD, through the ARC, proposed the building of a FMD facility. This was supported by the portfolio committee and R500 million was received from Treasury. 8 years later, the facility has yet to be completed and South Africa was importing FMD vaccines from Botswana.

OBP is still without a CEO, despite the institution showing a solid financial performance as a result of the introduction of new vaccines which were needed by the industry. Although the suspension of a successful CEO should come as no surprise given the revelations that the ANC called the shot on who was appointed to the helm of South Africa’s high court. Cadre deployment is also rotting the country’s agriculture sector.

The DA is appealing to the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to investigate the situation at OBP and ARC as the two institutions are threatening the livestock industry.

The following are key points of investigations and suggestions:

  • The progress regarding the building of the FMD vaccine production facility;
  • The shortage of vaccines at OBP;
  • The reasons behind the new board purging CEO and high resignation of senior executives;
  • Provide livestock industry with vaccines solutions as a matter of urgency; and
  • Consider the proposal made to promote veterinary vaccine production by private companies.