While some farmers are relieved that Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza has suspended all movement of cattle to stop the spread of foot and mouth disease, they are nervous about what the future holds. There have been at least 116 outbreaks in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, the North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Free State.
Didiza announced that cattle may not be moved for any reason except for direct slaughter at registered abattoirs and slaughter for ritual purposes for 21 days. Failure to comply with the announcement would result in criminal charges for contravening the Animal Diseases Act. Pheladi Matsole of Sebata Super Maize Meal, who also has a livestock farm in Frankfort in the Free State, called on small-scale farmers to comply with Didiza’s order. He told Vutivi News that this would prevent a further outbreak, which would jeopardise the country’s food security.
“I welcome the minister’s intervention, and I believe that it was a quick and decisive decision,” Matsole said. “I believe that if she did not take this step, then we would be sitting with an outbreak that is equal to that of the Covid-19 in severity.” Matsole listed the dangers of small farmers not complying. “As soon as I heard the news, I circulated it to my fellow farmers so that we can get on top of the outbreak,” he said.
“If we as farmers do not comply, our non-compliance will have a huge impact on the economy. There will be a loss of stock, and where there is a loss of stock, the supply of red meat will decrease tremendously, and we will be forced to import red meat, something that we do not want.” Matsole said a further outbreak would also have other dire consequences. “There will be job losses across the sector,” he said. “Other businesses that augment the livestock industry like veterinarians, logistics companies and restaurants will suffer a great deal, so the only solution is to comply.”
Babalwa Sokupha, who is based in Mahikeng in the North West, told Vutivi News that he was anxious about what this meant for his livestock. “The announcement came as a shock to me because up until now I thought that the problem was under control,” Sokupha said. “Now we are forced to avoid taking our cattle to auctions. This means that we will not have cash flow from our livestock, and this is bad news because we took some loans from the Land Bank and the private sector.”
Sokupha said that although his cattle had been vaccinated, he believed that if the outbreak was not contained, it could strain his finances. Didiza said cattle that were already at shows, auctions and being moved to the country, would be given 48 hours to move to their final destination after being sold. The local state veterinary office should be contacted for these permits.