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CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance on Monday said they will be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Machwene Semenya, to brief Parliament on his Department’s plans to stop any further job losses following the spread of the bird flu virus in the country.

DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Annette Steyn MP said the minister must brief the house about what his department is doing to ensure that jobs can be saved and the containment measures that are in place in the industry.

"Zokwana must assure South Africans, especially businesses that employ thousands of people which have been negatively impacted by this mess that his department is on top of this impending crisis," Steyn said.

According to Steyn, more cases of the outbreak have been recorded in 6 provinces and these outbreaks poses as a major threat to the poultry industry as 111 000 direct and indirect agricultural jobs are at risk.

"There have already been job losses due to the spread of the virus. The truth is that if Minister Zokwana does not have contingency plans in place, this crisis can reach unacceptable proportions," said Steyn.

More than 600 000 birds to date, according to Steyn have been culled due to the DAFF failing to urgently implement the appropriate control measures.

"The DA is also extremely concerned by the tardy response on how the poultry industry will be compensated when culling takes place. It is totally unacceptable that no funding has been made available for this," she added.

Steyn said the DA will not rest until the Minister addresses and reassures South Africans that his Department has a genuine plan in place to prevent the shedding of jobs within the sector.

"The Minister must ensure that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries work with the affected producers to bring an end to even further job losses in the poultry sector," Steyn concluded.

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE