Food security in South Africa now at serious risk due to vaccine shortages

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

Note to Editors: Find attached a voicenote from DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development – Noko Masipa MP

The DA is raising alarm over the continued shortage of vaccines and the potential threat that it now poses on the country’s food security. On Friday, members of the National Red Meat Producer Organisation (RPO) issued a press statement complaining about their dying herd of sheep because of shortages of bluetongue vaccines. According to the press statement, farmers have registered a 50% mortality rate amongst their herd because vaccine unavailability.

Not too long ago, the DA was also inundated with complaints from horse farmers about their dying horses due to an inability to secure vaccines for the African Horse Sickness.

Through legislation, the government is obliged to manage both the notifiable and controlled diseases. The government has failed miserably in this regard. Onderstepoort Biological Product, a state-owned entity, used to be an internationally recognized entity in terms of animal vaccines production, research and development. However, the ANC government has run this organization to the ground. Both bluetongue and African Horse Sickness vaccines can only be produced by OBP in the country. Because the entity failed to repair and maintain its equipment, that production capacity is gone.

The DA has previously made a call to the Minister to allow OBP to partner with private sector to ensure enough production of these vaccines. While Onderstepoort Biological Product Incorporation Act of 1999 Sec 4(2)(a) makes provision for the Minister to alter shareholding of the institution, the minister has failed to act decisively.

Since these calls fell on deaf ears on numerous times, the DA and farming community were left with one option, petitioning parliament to force OBP and the Minister to make available African Horse Sickness and blue tongue vaccine strains to the private sector to assist the agricultural sector with vaccine production while sorting the equipment and corruption challenges at OBP.

Herewith is the petition link We call on all South Africans who agree that the treatment of animal health needs to improve and food security must be protected to sign the petition.

The DA is again making a call to the Minister to partner with the private sector and allow them to use the OBP’s blue tongue and African horse sickness vaccine strains to produce vaccines for farmers as a matter of urgency to protect country’s livestock and food security.