FMD Blanket Ban Poses Severe Threat to Agricultural Economy

In light of the recent order handed down by the Honourable Judge Makume in the South Gauteng High Court on 19 August 2022 and the subsequent government gazette banning the transportation and movement of cattle for 21 days, ActionSA finds the ruling to be impractical and detrimental to the livestock, game and fibre industries in South Africa.

As an organisation we find it highly illogical for the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to accept and apply a blanket ban in order to combat the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease amongst cloven hoofed animals in SA. Area specific quarantine, movement and travel bans have been the preferred and largely successfully proven approach in times past. It allows for the quarantining of high risk geographical areas where all the necessary protocols can be applied and implemented by all stakeholders in order confine and contain the spread of the disease.

Botswana, a neighbouring country, and member of the Southern African Development Community recently released a Press Statement outlining the critical steps they have taken in dealing with FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease). FMD is endemic within various regions of Botswana and hence they have chosen to apply an area specific ban.

The imposed blanket ban by the Department of Agricultural, Land Reform and Rural Development will inevitably stretch State and Private sector scarce resources so thinly that they are no longer effective or efficient to isolate and control the spread of FMD as opposed to concentrating all available resources to specific areas where outbreaks occur or are endemic to contain the spread of the disease.

ActionSA therefore poses the following questions to Minister Thoko Didiza in regards to the decision taken in dealing with FMD. How effective has the implementation of the blanket ban been? How effectively is it being applied and what will happen after the mandated 21-day ban expires?

These decisions taken by the Minister and her Department are reminiscent of the very same ineffective strategies applied during the COVID pandemic. Hence we urge Minister Didiza to reconsider the blanket ban and opt for a more practical and effective area specific ban in collaboration with all affected stakeholders.