Gaborone – The outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in South Africa could have dire implications on the Southern African meat industry, stakeholders have warned.
In an interview with The Southern Times Business this week, the chairman of the South Africa-based Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO) Mr Koos van der Ryst said the outbreak of the FMD in Kwazulu-Natal had already seen three countries banning imports of red meat and related products from the country, and others were likely to follow suit.
“So far, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe have banned import of meat products from South Africa. We also can’t export live animals to these countries and this is a serious concern,” he said.
Mr van der Ryst said South Africa had lost its FMD-free zone status with the World Organisation for Animal Health in 2019 after an outbreak in Limpopo Province.
“I think the recent outbreak will have an impact on South Africa and the region. For instance, in South Africa, we didn’t have a free status for four years now. The export of live animals to neighbouring countries is a problem; for four years now we have been in the red zone. What we have to do is to make an application to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) to give us back our free status after we had fixed our problems and that can take up to two years,” he said.
In a statement, the RPO said that apart from losing the FMD free-zone status, the “the recent outbreak in KwaZulu Natal is a further set back. It will take at least five years to regain this status, but for exports to grow during these times we must be seen to be making progress on this road containing foot and mouth disease”.
The RPO added that “it has been clear for a while now that business as usual is not sufficient anymore to contain FMD”.
In a statement, Botswana’s Agricultural Development and Food Security Ministry has said importation of live cloven hooved animals and fresh products from South Africa had been banned.
The ministry also banned transiting the animals and meat products through Botswana, and additionally barred importation of veld grass, bedding, manure and even vehicles from the affected areas.
The ban is with immediate effect and until further notice.