The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries received a briefing by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on disease and pest outbreaks and their impact on the sector.
Pests such as fall army worm, oriental fuitfly and polyphagus shothole borer amongst others are catastrophic to food crops and exports are subject to stringent phytosanitary measures by receiving countries.
Moreover, animal diseases such foot and mouth disease, avian flu, swine fever and rabies require control measures to be put in place such as movement restrictions of animals, clinical surveillance and vaccination of animals. The impact can be seen in loss of production costing millions, market access and loss of consumer confidence and most importantly job losses.
The committee heard that there are issues with funding in this section of the Department which requires the urgent attention of Treasury. With regard to human capital, there is a shortage of professionals such as veterinarians, entomologists, meat inspectors and these critical posts need to be filled.
The department has a budget of R 2 billion for this section, however the Department requires about R600m for vaccines which are costly and some of which are sourced from Botswana and are paid for in dollars. The department is encouraged to develop a vaccine bank so that any outbreaks of diseases can be managed with vaccines which are in stock, and the department does not need to go to donors, as donations come with their own terms and conditions said the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Rosina Semenya.
Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa