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Foot & mouth disease outbreak: Kwanalu emphasises need for biosecurity and traceability

The KZN Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) has urged all livestock owners to adhere to Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) controls and to implement biosecurity and traceability measures to prevent the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease following confirmed outbreaks in KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Limpopo by Veterinary Services.


The first outbreak in KZN took place in May 2021 and the province has been fighting the spread ever since.


“The present situation regarding the Foot and Mouth Disease in KZN is extremely concerning.  Since last year, there has been a restriction on movement in the Foot and Mouth Disease disaster management area, we are now seeing new positive cases in different locations,” said Kwanalu CEO, Sandy La Marque.


“Kwanalu has been proactive and recently hosted a Biosecurity Workshop with representatives from across the province to discuss biosecurity and measures to protect the livestock industry. However, until authorities provide programmes across the entire industry, create awareness, and allocate sufficient budget and resources to assist in the organisation and implementation of control measures and traceability of all livestock, it is not enough to stop an outbreak in its tracks,” said La Marque.


Last week, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced a vaccination drive launched by the MEC of Agriculture, Ms Bongile Sithole Moloi in order to curb the spread within the Mkhanyadu and King Cetshwayo Municipalities.


“The vaccination process is an extremely serious matter. Effectively it impacts directly on trade locally and export markets. The Disease Management Area (DMA), as announced by the Department, remains in force. This means that animals may not move into or out of the area, which impacts the trade of livestock,” said La Marque.


The financial implications of Foot and Mouth Disease outbreaks place a huge strain on both the emerging and commercial sector, as well as the economy at large.


“The National Agricultural Marketing Council estimated that the last foot and mouth disease outbreak in Limpopo cost the economy R4 billion. Commercially, the consequences are enormous on the country’s foot and mouth disease free status and ability to export. It also puts a huge strain on the emerging sector, where people rely heavily on the sale of cattle to put food on the table, pay school fees and survive,” said Vice-Chairperson of Kwanalu and Chairperson of the KZN Red Meat Producers Association, Angus Williamson.


“It is essential that every member involved in the livestock industry works in a united, organised effort towards biosecurity to curb the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease,” said Williamson.


“While the private sector will continue to lobby for growth, market opportunity, traceability and seek sustainable farming practices through technology, it is up to each producer, livestock and landowner to ensure that any disease does not reach his produce by “self-regulating” bio-security and traceability at the farm gate,” said La Marque.