SA’s dire animal health situation is a constraint on livestock production

Source: Susan Marais, Farmer’s Weekly, 12 January 2022, photo credit: Landthink

South Africa has only about half the number of veterinarians it needs, which gives those who are practising less of a voice when they speak out about the lack of vaccines and adequate support for rural farmers.

This was according to DA MP Noko Phineas Masipa, who sits on the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly, he said:

“Biosecurity is just as important as self-sufficiency with regard to food security.”

Prof Vinny Naidoo, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Pretoria, told Farmer’s Weekly that South Africa needed at least 100 veterinarians per million people.

“This would translate to about 6 000 vets. At the moment, we have about half this number registered in the country.”

Dr Florence Nherera-Chokuda, CEO of the National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, confirmed this figure, and said there was currently about one veterinarian for every 800 small-scale livestock farmers.

“We have a particular problem in communal areas. Farmers often have to make their own diagnoses, as there’s such a shortage of animal health assistance.”

Naidoo said the problem centred not only on numbers, but on where veterinarians chose to work.

“Because the state doesn’t provide subsidised care to the same level as it does in human health [since state veterinarians are more involved in disease control than therapeutic management], veterinarians need to charge for their services.”
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The South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) coordinates industry interventions and collaboratively manages risks in the value chain to enable the sustainability and profitability of pork producers in South Africa.