FMD: Seven weeks of silence

SAPPO is extremely concerned with the lack of urgency displayed to resolve the current foot-and-mouth (FMD) crisis. An FMD task team was appointed more than two months ago to look at appropriate actions to not only manage the current spread of FMD, but also to pave a way forward to regaining a recognised FMD-free zone(s).

The task team met more than seven weeks ago and has not been able to organise follow-up meetings with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD) to finalise action plans. Once again, the opportunity for government and industry to work together has been missed. As the pork industry, we recognise partnerships with the DALRRD and the entire livestock industry as a key pillar to managing disease outbreaks. Frustratingly, the DALRRD’s persistent ineptness in collaborating meaningfully erodes the trust and consensus required to move forward on key interventions.

Over the past few months, FMD has had a material impact on the pig economy. Exports of pork have been directly affected, creating local oversupply and thus pressure on domestic pork prices. Thus far, the pig industry’s compartment system, in combination with Pork360 and the influence the business development team exerts in informal value chains, has enabled the industry to manage diseases with an effective risk-based approach. As SAPPO implements its movement application, the pork industry’s ability to sustain high levels of biosecurity will be further reinforced.  Similar interventions at a comparative scale are yet to be implemented in the larger red meat industry. As the end of 2022 is nearing, we trust that action plans will be tabled and implemented in the near future before 2023 begins.