Agri Hour

Shortage of animal disease vaccines should be addressed urgently

───   ELSABÉ RICHARD 05:00 Mon, 17 Jan 2022

Shortage of animal disease vaccines should be addressed urgently | News Article

The shortage of locally produced animal disease vaccines in South Africa should be addressed urgently as this might have a devastating effect on the livestock industry.

The DA’s Noko Masipa says the government needs to address the issue as soon as possible as this is a serious problem for farmers and the livestock industry as a whole. 

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This call comes after South Africa’s livestock industry has been experiencing a shortage of locally produced foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccines and other much-needed livestock vaccines for diseases such as bluetongue and Rift Valley Fever, amongst other animal disease vaccines.

The country has been experiencing continued rainfall in some areas and animal disease-causing insects usually hatch and multiply, which is a great concern.

OFM News previously reported that dr. WA Lombard, an agricultural economist at the University of the Free State, also echoed that with good rain comes the risk of animal diseases and that urgent intervention is needed to prevent a catastrophe from happening in the livestock industry.

“Given the serious concerns of the agriculture sector and promises from the government, the DA calls on the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to urgently address the shortage. Urgent attention must also be paid to the poor management of the Onderstepoort Biological Product (OBP) and Agricultural Research Council (ARC), which were meant to support livestock farmers and to finish building the promised FMD vaccines facility so that these vaccines can be produced locally.

“Agriculture is one of the very few sectors that has grown economically and it’s providing most of the new employment opportunities in South Africa.

“The sector is expected to continue on a positive trajectory for the next couple of years, with the livestock industry doing particularly well. It provides the best opportunity to accelerate transformation in agriculture, but unless the government takes the prevention of diseases like FMD seriously, it may end up creating an overstocking of non-tradeable livestock commodities because of the poor management of animal health.

“Even farmers with access to the best veterinary services are bound to fail without locally produced vaccines to ensure the good health of their animals,” says Masipa in a statement. 

Furthermore, he adds that the party is appealing to the Minister of DALRRD, Thoko Didiza, to investigate the situation at OBP and ARC as the two institutions are threatening the livestock industry.

He suggested that the following points be investigated:

  • The progress regarding the building of the FMD vaccine production facility;
  • The shortage of vaccines at OBP;
  • The reasons behind the new board purging CEO and high resignation of senior executives;
  • Provide livestock industry with vaccines solutions as a matter of urgency; and
  • Consider the proposal made to promote veterinary vaccine production by private companies.

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