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Minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza, is running a campaign to put measures to fight against the spread of foot and mouth disease (F58MD) in South Africa in place. She met with the Limpopo provincial government led by the premier, Chupu Stanley Mathabatha. Various outbreaks have been identified in KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Limpopo and Gauteng.

“We need to manage the challenge we are facing as a country on the spread of FMD in the four provinces. We are particularly interested in Limpopo because there have been identified cases since 2018 up to now. We need serious intervention. Our role here is to work and give comfort to stakeholders, especially the farmers on how we are managing it,” said Didiza.

She went on to say the need to curb the spread and contain the disease arises from wanting to protect the market share of livestock and ensure that farmers, especially emerging black farmers, are protected as the market share is still higher at 11% of the total agricultural value chain.

“By containing the spread, we will be able to manage the current ban on South African meat as it has negatively affected the agricultural output and revenue. As a result, we called a multi-disciplinary team involving the office of the premier, provincial treasury, provincial economic development, environment and tourism to see what is it that we are not managing, allowing this crisis to reach where it is,” she further remarked.

Identified causes of the spread of FMD

For Limpopo, the identified problem contributing to the spread is the border between Kruger National Park, and the farms and households bordering the park. Buffalo are known to be carriers of FMD. Access to areas where buffalo are and their mixing with cattle lead to the spread of the disease. In addition, the movement of livestock from identified restricted areas to others that were free is a major contributor. The meeting agreed that it requires vigilance to limit the interaction between buffalo and cattle.

Mathabatha welcomed the intervention by the minister. “Agriculture is one of the pillars in the Limpopo Development Plan. Any matter that threatens this part affects the general economic outlook and the recovery of our province, hence the importance of this meeting.

“I have called upon the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, provincial treasury and Limpopo economic development to work as a multi-disciplinary team to attend to this as a matter of crisis. We need to claim back this share and not lose interest in our produce from international and national consumers.”

Read more about FMD vaccination here.

The minister also met with the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders, led by Kgoshi Malesela Dikgale. During the session, they agreed on quick interaction with other traditional leaders in Vhembe and Mopani within the next two weeks to spread the message of avoiding the spread of the disease.

 “We want to thank minister Didiza for considering us as a house and an important stakeholder. They are assisting us as leaders since members of the community are not able to sell their livestock. This is not the government’s problem alone. It is our own people that are affected, and we are willing to partner to put to an end this flood called FMD through immediate meetings in Mopani and Vhembe districts,” said Dikgale.

A team has been put together to work on an emergency plan that will address the action to be implemented immediately to make communities aware of what they should do to help prevent the spread of FMD. – Press release, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development