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@ obpvaccines.co.za.
‘ farmers should avoid using unregistered products’
DR BETHUEL NTHANGENI