SA's Vaccinated Poultry Not to be Exported

SOUTH AFRICA - They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. That is the conundrum faced by poultry farmers who want to vaccinate their birds against avian flu but risk losing their ability to export.
calendar icon 26 September 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

This is because the government has opted not to use vaccines because they fear it will affect trade.

The H5N8 strain of the highly pathogenic avian flu has struck parts of the province and the rest of the country, killing thousands of birds, particularly in the poultry industry.

MEC for Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said the decision to vaccinate can only be made by the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

"I am aware of the concept of designated vaccination zones or compartments in areas with a high density of poultry farms. This is a proposal we could look into. However, further research into any possible trade implications would have to be investigated. I am engaging with Minister Senzeni Zokwana on this matter."

Last month, Mr Zokwana said the issue of vaccination was not a simple matter and was a decision that needed to be based on scientific research.

"We set up a task team, consisting of representatives from industry and government, to work on scientifically based consideration regarding vaccination."

He said a detailed update would be given at the end of this month.

The owner of The Duck Farm, near Kraaifontein, Leon Groeneveld, who lost his business after having to cull 36000 birds, said he was open to vaccinations but was wary of the trade implications.

"If you vaccinate then you can’t export, and if that is the case it will be detrimental for us, because we export and we intend to grow the market.

"On the other hand, if you vaccinate you can grow your income, for a small market, and be able to pay staff."

Mr Groeneveld’s farm provided duck meat products and eggs to the market, and he said the financial implication was about a R4million loss.

Anne Hacking, director of the Dunda- rach Poultry Farm, said they had lost around 300 000 birds and she was in favour the vaccine.

"If the vaccine could be used in our poultry, within one week this catastrophe could be reversed."

Dr Ziyanda Majokweni director of the Poultry Disease Management Agency at the SA Poultry Association, said the government’s policy was that South Africa does not vaccinate.

"This is in line with global practices for this disease. Vaccination has unfavourable trade implications. Countries that vaccinate employ strategic vaccination towards eradicating the disease, meaning they want to get to a state where they would be considered free of the disease."

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