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By Gcina Ntsaluba

Journalist


Restrict foot-and-mouth response to Limpopo – meat industry

'The damage to farmers, buyers, traders, and rural households depending on the sale of livestock to support themselves' must be limited, roleplayers say.


The national ban on livestock auctions put in place by the department of agriculture after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Limpopo last year has had devastating effects on the livestock industry, according to role players.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza to lift the moratorium on livestock auctions and compartmentalise the red zone areas to exclude the unaffected areas and provinces.

According to one auctioneer in KwaZulu-Natal, the auctions provided a very important price-setting mechanism for the industry and, as such, the ban affected the industry as a whole.

“We hold on average five cattle auctions per week, selling almost 10,000 cattle per month on auction. The ban on auctions has had a devastating effect on the livestock industry as a whole, impacting hugely on buyers and farmers,” said Karen Melouney, co-owner of AAM Livestock Agents and Auctioneers.

“Farmers of all [scales] are affected, with small-scale farmers the hardest hit, as they have limited alternatives for marketing their stock.”

Melouney added that small-scale buyers also had limited ability to source stock from sellers and relied on auctions to source animals.

She said the ban did not control the movement of cattle in the affected area and was a futile exercise.

“These issues need to be addressed as a matter of extreme urgency, to limit the damage to farmers, buyers, traders, and rural households depending entirely on the sale of livestock to support themselves.”

The Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO) said those areas where there were outbreaks should be isolated and the rest of the country returned to normal under certain prerequisites.

“It is of critical importance that the situation in the red meat industry normalise as soon as possible in order for auctions and livestock shows to continue in at least eight provinces,” said RPO chairperson Koos van der Ryst.

“We request the department of agriculture take the extremely drastic measures into reconsideration and isolate the affected areas in order for the situation to normalise,” he said.

The DA member on the portfolio committee on agriculture, Noko Masipa, said the temporary ban on livestock auctions was a poor attempt to treat a symptom of the crisis, rather than the disease itself.

“The DA calls on Didiza to immediately lift this moratorium in the nonaffected areas and deal with the matter per guidelines for the treatment of the disease as prescribed by the World Organisation for Animal Health.”

Department of agriculture spokesperson said Reggie Ngcobo had not responded by the time of going to press.

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