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Nothing but silence from Department of Agriculture about scope of foot-and-mouth disease

(Member statement in parliament)

 

It is extremely worrying that today in the Portfolio Committee for Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development was still unable to say what is the scope of the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Limpopo.

South Africa's agricultural sector is already heavily burdened with the uncertainty of land expropriation without compensation, the severe drought that has affected many of the bread-basket provinces for years and now also the ban on auctions in four provinces due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

To make matters worse, the Department has a serious shortage of veterinarians and it can be considered one of the causes of this year's outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

It is unacceptable that the Department merely complains about the shortfalls, like the administration of vaccinations, which is a devolved function. The root of the problem is not being addressed by urgently appointing veterinarians and improving the system.

This goes to show that the Department is not serious about food security nor agriculture, which is one of the country's main economic drives. If the ANC government and the Department really were serious about solving the problem, they would have ensured years ago already that the country's red zones and borders are secured to prevent healthy animals from coming into contact and being infected by sick animals.

The provinces that border on the affected Limpopo province, namely North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, now also have a ban on all livestock auctions due to the government's inability to do its job properly.

The Department must urgently declare regions within these provinces fit for auctions in order to ensure that the farmers and related economies of these provinces are not destroyed completely.

The Department needs to take control of the situation at once, without destroying the struggling agricultural sector.

Contact number: 082 490 6663

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