South Africa is looking at reviving its game and red meat export industry after a three-year global ban following an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease has been lifted. The country’s Agricultural Department is now taking steps to resume trade. CCTV’s Sumitra Nydoo reported this story from Johannesburg.
To recover from the red meant ban, which has cost the country $1.5 billion in the last three years, South Africa will need to ensure strict controls for livestock and wild animals bred for consumption. European and Chinese inspectors are expected in South Africa next month to carry out assessments.
South Africa hopes to pass tests to resume meat exports after 3-year banSouth Africa is looking at reviving its game and red meat export industry after a three-year global ban following an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease has been lifted. The country’s Agricultural Department is now taking steps to resume trade. CCTV’s Sumitra Nydoo reported this story from Johannesburg.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is highly contagious and has devastating effects on animals. It is usually carried by buffalo at game reserves. South Africa has taken steps to create a buffer zone between freely-roaming wild animals and disease-free livestock. Animals such as cattle in the buffer zone are vaccinated to prevent the disease from spreading to free zones, but the process has to be well managed.
“If you take a look at Botswana and our neighbors Namibia, which are exporting meat currently to Europe, they also got the foot and mouth in their countries, but it’s well managed through red lines, the boundaries and barriers where cattle don’t cross,” agricultural economist at Absa Bank Ernest Janovsky said.
While South Africa is a net importer of red meat, experts believed the industry can grow into an exporting one.
In the meantime, some industry players have raised their concerns about what a thriving export market could do to the local consumer market. South African consumers are already struggling with high meat prices that have risen by almost double the inflation rate in the last year. Game meat is even more expensive, and could get higher once exports resume.
Experts have welcomed government’s decision to renegotiate trade terms to export meat, but said that South Africa should also negotiate better trade conditions. Current economic blocs such as the European Union look at geographical location, and not individual products, which means if there’s an outbreak in an isolated area, the whole country receives a blanket ban.
A more fair method would be using a commodity-based trade agreement, where each product is evaluated individually to determine if it is a heath threat, Peter Oberem, president of Wildlife Ranching SA said.