DA petition on OBP failures and vaccine shortages generates over 11 000 signatures

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
19 May 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP. See picture of the submission here.

The Democratic Alliance has submitted its petition to Parliament in which we are calling on the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, and her Department to release Onderstepoort Biological Products’ (OBP) vaccine strains to the private sector so that they can assist with the production of vaccines to save the livestock industry and protect our food security. The petition, carried on the platform change.org has garnered over 11 000 signatures.

This is a clear message of protest against Minister Didiza, her Department and OBP’s inability to produce vaccines on time and in the right quantities for the livestock farmers. The livestock industry is going through a difficult time largely as a result of the shortage of vaccines. Almost everyday, videos and pictures of dying horses are circulating and farmers are calling for help with no success.

Despite repeatedly reporting these issues to the Minister, the Portfolio committee in Parliament and the Department’s Director General, our efforts have been flatly ignored. Task teams have been put together but nothing has come out of it or anything tangible being implemented. This inaction prompted farmers and the Democratic Alliance to launch the petition to shine the spotlight on the ever-growing problem of vaccines.

What makes this sad state of affairs worse is the persistent load-shedding. During our visit to NAMPO, farmers indicated that prices for their livestock have dropped due to reduced demand from abattoirs. A combination of dying herds and reduced prices fetched at auctions makes livestock farming very challenging.

Access to the export market would’ve been the most critical price stabilizer for livestock and animal product prices. However, access to the export market requires effective animal disease management and biosecurity. This can be best achieved through collaboration between the private sector and government to ensure a functioning biosecurity, and extension services coupled with the availability of vaccines on time. The ANC government has totally failed to manage the controlled and notifiable diseases resulting in the country being banned from exporting animal and animal products.

The small-scale farmers who use their livestock to support their family’s livelihoods face a struggle due to a drop in cattle and sheep prices due to the uncaring ANC government.