Thulo Tshehlo with springbok leather and traditional drums. Agri SA on Monday hailed DAFF for coordinating South Africa's response to the ban on the export of wool and animal skins to China. Picture: Teboho Setlofane

JOHANNESBURG - Agri SA on Monday hailed the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) for coordinating South Africa's response to the ban on the export of wool and animal skins to China following a disease outbreak.

The Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in January this year resulted in the suspension of South Africa's FMD status and a subsequent ban on wool and animal skin exports to China. 

Agri SA together with its affiliates and DAFF have since been engaging with the Chinese authorities to show that South Africa’s wool and skin exports are safe for export. Following these efforts, the Chinese authorities announced the lifting of the ban last week.

South Africa exports billions of rands worth of wool and animal skins to China each year, and the ban placed enormous financial burden on the livestock sector.

Dr Pieter Prinsloo, chairman of the Agri SA's Commodity Chamber, said the department had managed to swiftly form a partnership with several captains of industry in the livestock sector.

"The FMD steering committee managed to contain the disease and established plans to improve biosecurity practices in hot spots," Prinsloo said. 

"We would like to congratulate both Dr Botlhe Modisane, the Chief Director of Animal Production and Health in DAFF and Dr Pieter Vervoort head of the National Animal Health Forum (NAHF) for the leadership role they played."

Agri SA, together with representatives from the South African Feedlot Association (SAFA), the Skin, Hide and Leather Council (SHALC), Cape Wool and the National Wool Growers Association (NWGA), met with deputy minister Sifiso Buthelezi and director-general Mike Mlengana to discuss the status of wool and animal exports to China.

Jolanda Andrag, head of Agri SA's Commodity Chamber, said although they were still in the process of regaining their FMD-free status, "we celebrate the success of this private public partnership."

- African News Agency (ANA)