Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)
Lack of focus on science hinders agri growth
There is growing unease about the slow progress in crucial agricultural regulations needed to ensure the sector’s success. Unless the regulations are put in place timeously, growth and job creation prospects within agriculture will not be achieved.
This was the sentiment expressed by Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at Agbiz, in listing current constraints within the agriculture sector that will have the biggest impact in 2023. He said regulatory problems and the dysfunctional State Veterinary Services were negatively affecting the production of key vaccines.
Johan Steyn, a sheep farmer in Mpumalanga, lamented the shortage of life-saving vaccines, and told Farmer’s Weekly there was a ‘massive problem’ with Onderstepoort Biological Products: “I have not been able to get the Rev 1 Vaccine for brucellosis since September last year. It’s just not available anywhere. Although there are many private companies that are willing and able to produce it, government regulation doesn’t allow it.”
He added that vaccines for bluetongue disease were also unavailable.
Alternating active ingredients was important to ensure parasites did not build resistance. But Steyn said this was a challenge when vaccines were so short in supply. “No one is developing any new vaccines, so if we do start seeing resistance in the parasites, we’ll have a huge problem.”
Sihlobo said there was also a need to modernise the Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Seeds and Remedies Act (No.
36 of 1947) to enable the importation and registration of key agrochemicals essential for boosting productivity. “For an extended period, South Africa embraced science and led the continent in agricultural productivity, benefitting from the adoption of critical agrochemicals, seeds and livestock remedies.
“But there’s been a drift away from this positive path. The country now lags behind its competitors due to delays and large backlogs in the office of the Registrar of Act No. 36 of 1947. The result has been that crucial productivityenhancing inputs haven’t been released to the agriculture sector.”