Collapse of DALLRD’s animal health support systems contributes to FMD outbreak

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Member on the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
17 Aug 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP.

While the DA welcomes the decision by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, and her Department (DALLRD) to suspend cattle movement for the next 21 days in order to curb further spread of food and mouth disease (FMD), the fact that FMD is spreading at such an alarming rate is an indictment on Minister Didiza and the Director-General of DALLRD, Mooketsa Ramasodi.

While there was no explanation by the Minister as to how small livestock and game were exempted from this ban, a farmer in the FMD controlled zone raised his concerns about how kudus infected his cattle after jumping the fence to his farm. Twice his farm was brought to a standstill due to the infection from game.

Restricting the transport of livestock cannot be a long-term solution, yet DALLRD has failed to produce a plan to combat the continuous FMD outbreaks for smallholder livestock farmers. These farmers’ cattle roam the streets of cities and rural villages, and their animals are not fenced at all. They farm from their backyards and they need help. Often these smallholder farmers are the ones complaining about stock theft – these stolen animals could be the biggest spreader of FMD.

South Africa’s livestock animal health support institutions are on the brink of collapse. Whilst farmers are battling the spread of FMD, institutions such as Onderstepoort Biological Products and the Agricultural Research Council lack the capacity to fulfil their mandates.

The Minister must seriously consider reviewing the powers of the National Director of Veterinary services so that this office is empowered to manage the biosecurity challenges between the provinces, and also have capacity to pull all needed resources from the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) when urgently required to patrol and man roads to guard the movement of animals during the 21 days of livestock restricted movement.

Furthermore, the Minister and her Department must start holding responsible officials accountable for failing farmers in their duties of stopping the widespread of the FMD. Because the buck stops with the Department. There were allegations of DALLRD conducting auctions without adhering to the agreed biosecurity of the country. This is unacceptable and must stop.

The poor management of the Department in controlling the spread of FMD affects the pockets of many emerging livestock farmers who rely heavily on livestock to send kids to school and university.

Minister Didiza must build consequence management in her Department with a clear accountability line. Without proper consequence management, those violating the laws would continue to do because they know that the Department is not capacitated to deal with the perpetrators.