In this May 8, 2019, photo, pigs eat feed at a pig farm in Panggezhuang village in northern China's Hebei province. As a deadly virus ravages pig herds across Asia, scientists are accelerating efforts to develop a vaccine to help guard the world's pork supply. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
JOHANNESBURG - Agriculture Business Chamber (Agbiz), an organisation that represents commercial farmers and agribusiness, yesterday called on the government to introduce incentives to reduce the spread of animal disease in South Africa.

Wandile Sihlobo, the chief economist at Agbiz, said in a note that the industry remained concerned that farmers might give in to the temptation to rush the rest of the herd to the market when they realise that some pigs within their herd were dying, because of the African Swine Flu.

"This would present a risk of further spread of the disease (which spreads by contact).

"This leads us to the point of incentives for areas that have been affected by the disease,” Sihlobo said. “While government finances are constrained, farmers should be incentivised to report the outbreaks so that the disease can be successfully controlled.”

Agbiz argued that the incentives could take the form of government payments to farmers for a portion of the market value of pigs to be culled, because of the disease as provided for in the Animal Diseases Act.

Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development minister Thoko Didiza on Saturday announced a special task team to look into ways to curb the spread of African Swine Flu from the three affected provinces to other provinces.

The department has said that it is engaging the National Treasury and the department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs for assistance to quickly respond to the fever.

Since April, South Africa had experienced outbreaks of African Swine Flu in the North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Free State.

Pork prices in China have surged more than 40percent after the world’s largest consumer and producer of pork experienced an outbreak of the fever.

Beijing has since introduced higher subsidies for consumers and farmers as the disease continues to ravage livestock.

Statistics South Africa will this week release July’s producer prices.

South Africa’s annual producer price inflation index (PPI) eased from a 6.4percent gain the May to 5.8percent in June.

Sihlobo said one of the factors contributing to the meat price increase is pork, which is influenced by lower production in Asia, because of the spreading African Swine Flu, specifically in China and Vietnam.

Lukman Otunuga, an analyst at FXTM, said much attention this week would be directed towards the PPI, which is seen as a leading indicator of inflation.

“Further signs of easing inflationary pressures should reinforce market expectations over the South African Reserve Bank cutting interest rates to stimulate domestic consumption and economic growth,” Otunuga said.