The Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is proving difficult to contain in Limpopo after three new cases were reported in mid-December, with one reported at the beginning of January. Photo: Supplied
DURBAN – The Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is proving difficult to contain in Limpopo after three new cases were reported in mid-December, with one reported at the beginning of January.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) said on Tuesday that the total number of confirmed positive locations since the start of outbreak in January 2019 had risen to 15, with more than 130 points identified with possible links to specific auctions and affected properties.

The department and the provincial veterinary services have started conducting awareness on FMD clinical signs and biosecurity measures in Limpopo at the beginning of December and awareness was conducted in six villages in the Molemole area.

The department encourages livestock owners to limit the movement of cloven hoofed animals until the extent of the outbreak has been fully determined.

“If movements are necessary, the buyers are advised to request health declarations before any animals are bought from sellers to prevent the possible infection of new properties by positive animals being brought in,” Daff said.

It has made follow-up investigations by collecting samples, and out of 95 locations quarantined, 44 properties have proven to be negative for FMD.

“All properties where the disease has been confirmed have been placed under quarantine,” Daff said.

Wandile Sihlobo, a chief economist at Agricultural Business Chamber, said yesterday the FMD outbreak, which was reported in 2019, remained a key challenge in the country and the effects of it were the ban of exports of animal products.

“At risk are beef exports of roughly about $140million (R2billion) which South Africa exports annually in a normal year. Moreover, South Africa’s trading partners’ response to the FMD outbreak of early 2019 extended to sectors such as the wool industry. China, which imports on average 71percent of South Africa’s wool, placed a ban lasting for months on imports, which weighed on the industry.

Sihlobo said the wool sector’s exports are worth twice that of beef in value terms, averaging $308m in the past five years and all this was at risk during the ban.

He noted that the South African government and private sector participants will be engaging in the coming weeks to find a workable solution to this challenge.

“The government has placed a ban on auctions as a way to limit livestock movement,” Sihlobo said.

He said South Africa’s meat prices could again remain subdued for the greater part of 2020. “But the lower base of 2019 will mean that meat will not keep overall food price inflation at lower levels in 2020 as in the previous year,” Sihlobo said.

The department has also provided guidelines and application procedures have been finalised for animals on FMD quarantined properties to undergo early slaughter at designated abattoirs with specific conditions to prevent the spread of FMD.

BUSINESS REPORT