Cape Town - After a three-year ban on the export of red meat because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the international authorities have declared South Africa a disease-free zone.
This comes after the red meat industry has lost an estimated R4 billion a year since the ban came into effect in February 2011.
Yesterday Edith Vries, the director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the country’s suspension had been lifted and South Africa’s foot-and-mouth disease-free status been reinstated.
Vries described this as “good news for which the government should be credited”.
The World Organisation for Animal Health in Paris had visited the country after the outbreak and had laid down the steps the Agriculture Department would have to take to regain its foot-and-mouth disease-free status.
On Friday the organisation wrote to Botlhe Modisane, the chief director in charge of animal health in the department, to say it had considered the department’s report on corrective measures that had been implemented.
The organisation’s scientific commission had concluded that South Africa now complied with the Terrestrial Animal Health Code.
“I am please to inform you that the status of its foot-and-mouth-free zone… is thus re-instated as of February 14, 2014 for the zone of South Africa.
“I congratulate you for the very positive achievement on the foot-and-mouth situation in your country,” Dr Bernard Vallat wrote.
Vallat said a team of experts from the organisation would visit the country in December to check that the measures the department had taken to combat the disease had indeed been fully implemented in the foot-and-mouth control area of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
Gerhard Schutte, the chief executive of the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, said he was delighted yesterday.
“This is the best news I’ve had in many years. It’s such good news not only for the red meat industry, but for the stud industry, the wool and milk industry. All of them have had problems because of losing the foot-and-mouth-free status,” he said.
“The wool industry had great problems trying to get their wool into China.
“The milk couldn’t go to neighbouring countries because there was a ban on dairy going out.
“And the stud animals, mainly cattle but sheep too, they can now go to neighbouring countries.
“There is a backlog because of the ban in exporting breeding stock to neighbouring countries, so this is very good news,” Schutte said. - Cape Times