Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

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


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@ obpvaccine­

‘ farmers should avoid using unregister­ed products’


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