More farms found with avian flu virus

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESSREPORT - Sandile Mchunu

THE DEPART­MENT of agri­cul­ture, forestry and fish­eries (Daff) yes­ter­day said that it had de­tected new cases of avian in­fluenza (HPAI H5N8) virus in the coun­try in two more farms in Gaut­eng and Mpumalanga.

The depart­ment said that the new lo­ca­tions in­volved com­mer­cial layer chicken farms, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of af­fected farms to four af­ter the first two cases in Mpumalanga in June. The farms had been im­me­di­ately placed un­der quar­an­tine by state vet­eri­nar­i­ans.

“The quar­an­tine in­cludes, as a min­i­mum, a pro­hi­bi­tion of the move­ment of chick­ens and chicken prod­ucts on to and off the farm,” the depart­ment said. “The nec­es­sary mea­sures have been taken to con­tain and elim­i­nate the dis­ease as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble on both farms.”

The in­dus­try yes­ter­day called on the gov­ern­ment to do more to curb the spread.

“If the out­break con­tin­ues to spread then South Africa can ex­pect short­ages of chicken as well as price in­creases that may be steep,” said As­so­ci­a­tion of Meat Im­porters and Ex­porters of South Africa chief ex­ec­u­tive David Wolpert. ”The sit­u­a­tion has been se­ri­ously af­fected by the con­stant ef­forts by gov­ern­ment to cur­tail im­ports.”

The re­ported cases of avian in­fluenza have led to a ban on the coun­try’s ex­ports, par­tic­u­larly by Zim­babwe.

Dawie Ma­ree, head of in­for­ma­tion and mar­ket­ing for agri­cul­ture at FNB Busi­ness, said the ban of South African chicken by

Num­ber of jobs that could be on the line if out­break spreads

neigh­bour­ing coun­tries would have a neg­a­tive im­pact as Zim­babwe, Namibia and Botswana ac­counted for a sub­stan­tial num­ber of broiler ex­ports.

“The ban is a ma­jor blow to the lo­cal in­dus­try which has been grap­pling a down­turn over the last two years. We can only hope that the cur­rent ban from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries is tem­po­rary, be­cause if it lasts longer than a few more months, the in­dus­try could find it­self shed­ding a fur­ther es­ti­mated 2 500 jobs,” said Ma­ree, adding that the coun­try could see a dent of 0.13 per­cent on out­put and gross value added.

“The grain in­dus­try would also most likely take a knock as they pro­vide feed to the poul­try in­dus­try.”

The depart­ment main­tained that it was do­ing its best to limit the dam­age. “For­ward trac­ing was done and cull chicken de­pots were iden­ti­fied, which had re­ceived live cull chick­ens from one of the af­fected farms in the last 21 days.

“The records of th­ese cull de­pots are be­ing fol­lowed up to trace as many of th­ese chick­ens as pos­si­ble. The new Poul­try Dis­ease man­age­ment Agency sys­tem of reg­is­tra­tion of per­sons buy­ing and sell­ing live chick­ens made it pos­si­ble to trace th­ese culls,” the depart­ment said.

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