September 13, 2022

The Ministry of Agriculture clarifies its position on the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease

IN response to recent reports that a five-year ban has been imposed on the movement of livestock in King Cetshwayo, uMkhanyakude and Zululand districts, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has clarified its position.

Although the livestock movement ban has been in place since last year following the May 2021 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, there is no five-year ban in place.

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Speaking during the vaccination rollout last week in Hlabisa, Agriculture MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi said the government would conduct random roadblocks in all affected areas to ensure communities abide by the ban on movement already in place.

She expressed concern about the continued movement of livestock despite the ban.

“We implore farmers and livestock owners to refrain from transporting livestock for any reason as it leads to the spread of the disease. We also urge people to stop moving livestock at night,” she said.

Sithole-Moloi called on law enforcement to ensure compliance with the ban on movement.

“The government understands the impact the ban will have on the livelihoods of livestock owners, but insists that limiting the spread must be a priority,” Sithole-Moloi said.

More than 1,600 cattle were earmarked for vaccination, half of which have received it so far.

Sithole-Moloi also denounced cattle rustling, which is widespread in the region, saying it thwarts efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

Additionally, the customary payment of lobola, using cattle in marriage negotiations, is also responsible for spreading the disease, according to Sithole-Moloi.

Bongani Gina, a local herder, said the vaccination campaign has provided much-needed support to rural communities.

“The measures taken by the government are welcome. We are extremely concerned about this disease and the deployment of vaccinations will help us a lot,” said Gina.

He said the farmers’ response to the call from local veterinarians, who alerted farmers to the disease, is to be applauded.

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