OBP re­vamp on track

On­der­stepoort Bi­o­log­i­cal Prod­ucts in­terim CEO, Dr Bethuel Nthangeni, spoke to Siyanda Sishuba about how the ve­teri­nary vac­cine man­u­fac­turer is up­dat­ing its in­fra­struc­ture and con­duct­ing re­search into new prod­ucts in a con­certed ef­fort to im­prove its servi

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Contents -

What progress has been made with re­gards to ren­o­va­tions and up­grades at the On­der­stepoort Bi­o­log­i­cal Prod­ucts (OBP) fa­cil­ity? Will the project be com­pleted by 2020 as stated by OBP and what do these ren­o­va­tions en­tail?

The up­grad­ing of the fa­cil­i­ties be­gan in De­cem­ber last year and fo­cuses on chang­ing the fa­cil­ity from ISO 9000-com­pli­ant to Good Man­u­fac­tur­ing Prac­tice (GMP)-com­pli­ant. The move to GMP cer­ti­fi­ca­tion will help ad­dress past chal­lenges re­lat­ing to vac­cine short­ages and the non-per­for­mance of cer­tain vac­cines, so that we can re­main com­pet­i­tive in the vac­cine and an­i­mal health in­dus­try.

The project is on track for com­ple­tion in the first quar­ter of 2021. It’s made up of three phases: build­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tion/ de­mo­li­tion; re­con­struc­tion and qual­i­fi­ca­tion; and mi­gra­tion to the up­graded fa­cil­ity.

Will the ren­o­va­tions dis­rupt the pro­duc­tion of vac­cines?

The project plan and con­tin­gen­cies put in place will pre­vent any un­planned down­time. OBP is con­tin­u­ing with nor­mal pro­duc­tion while the de­mo­li­tion and con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties are un­der way. We also plan to stock­pile cer­tain vac­cines and anti­gens in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the planned down­time.

You men­tioned ear­lier that there have been prob­lems with the non-per­for­mance of some vac­cines. How do you plan to re­store the trust of farm­ers in OBP and its prod­ucts?

We pro­duce and sell prod­ucts that have been reg­is­tered in ac­cor­dance with the Fertiliser, Farm Feeds and Reme­dies Act No. 36 of 1947, and our sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives and agents con­stantly scan sales points for coun­ter­feit prod­ucts be­ing sold as if they are from OBP.

The in­vest­ment in the up­grad­ing of our in­fra­struc­ture is ev­i­dence of our com­mit­ment to im­prove the qual­ity of our prod­ucts so that they can also be ac­cepted in­ter­na­tion­ally.

What are the great­est threats to an­i­mal health in South Africa?

The use of un­reg­is­tered prod­ucts by some farm­ers poses se­ri­ous biose­cu­rity risks for the coun­try. We en­cour­age farm­ers to de­sist from us­ing un­reg­is­tered prod­ucts and, when they en­counter such prod­ucts, to re­port it to the au­thor­i­ties.

Does OBP of­fer any new prod­ucts that will help it re­main com­pet­i­tive in the in­dus­try?

Over the past few years, we’ve been work­ing on very in­ter­est­ing prod­ucts that will be rel­e­vant to South African farm­ers.

We used lo­cal dis­ease strains to pro­duce vac­cines that of­fer pro­tec­tion against these dis­eases, and we’re of the opin­ion that these new prod­ucts will be well ac­cepted by farm­ers. We’ll in­form the mar­ket soon about their avail­abil­ity.

What train­ing and sup­port do you of­fer farm­ers?

OBP of­fers quite a lot of sup­port to both emerg­ing and com­mer­cial farm­ers based on their needs.

We of­fer train­ing on var­i­ous live­stock dis­eases and the man­age­ment of prod­uct use against them.

Will OBP be of­fer­ing more train­ing pro­grammes to farm­ers? If so, how can farm­ers ac­cess this?

Yes, we will be adding more train­ing pro­grammes for farm­ers, and this will be made avail­able either through re­gional farm­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions or through the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment train­ing pro­grammes.

We would also be de­lighted if farm­ers con­tacted us di­rectly if they need any form of train­ing from OBP.

Whom should farm­ers con­tact if they strug­gle to get ac­cess to vac­cines?

Farm­ers can phone us on 012 522 1685/7/8 or

012 522 1621, or email or­der­sloc@ obp­vac­cines.co.za.

‘ farm­ers should avoid us­ing un­reg­is­tered prod­ucts’

DR BETHUEL NTHANGENI

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