South Africa seeks export market for meat products after foot-and-mouth calm

SOUTH AFRICA – The South African government said it is engaging in negotiations with external markets to allow importation of meat products from the country following the end of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Limpopo province, reports Business Day.

According to Agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, Senzeni Zokwana, the country has produced reports on the status of the outbreak which has seen a number of markets in Africa and middle east re-open.

“Following the sharing of update reports with trade partners, trade restrictions on the export of processed products have been relaxed by many trade partners.

Trade in safe commodities to direct neighbouring countries have largely been accepted and, where necessary, negotiation of new health certificates is under way.

There has also been good progress with negotiations to re-open markets for deboned matured beef, processed dairy products and processed hides and skins to the other African countries, the Middle East and the Far East,” he explained.

Zokwana said his department had notified trade partners and provided an update on the disease outbreak in South Africa requesting traders to consider continuation of trade in safe products.

The foot and mouth disease, which affect livestock broke out in the Vhembe district in January this year, resulting to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) temporarily suspending South Africa’s foot and mouth disease-free zone status.

Neighboring countries including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, eSwatini and Mozambique imposed a complete ban on importation of South African meat pending the containment of the disease.

Zokwana noted that the country’s trade on cloven hoofed animals had suffered significant negative economic effects following the suspension of the foot-and-mouth disease-free status.  

“While some countries instituted official bans, trade was further disrupted as a result of the inability to certify for any exports where foot-and-mouth disease-free-zone attestation is required,” he said.

He added that the country had embarked on a vaccination process as it sought to contain the disease outbreak, an exercise which has seen more than 10,000 cattle vaccinated against the foot and mouth disease. 

According to a study conducted by the Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO) in 2017, South Africa’s economy was at the risk of losing US$450 million a year if the country lost its foot and mouth disease-free status.

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