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Zokwana dragging feet on bird flu outbreak - DA

Oct 06 2017 20:12
Jenni Evans

Cape Town - Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana has been dragging his feet over the avian flu crisis that is threatening the country's poultry and ostrich industries, DA MP Annette Steyn said on Friday.

"The failure by the Minister ... to produce a clear and effective plan to address the bird flu crisis is likely to cost the agricultural sector thousands of jobs," said Steyn.

The opposition MP has demanded that farmers who had to cull birds to stop the spread of the virus be compensated, and that all breeding stock be vaccinated.

The DA has also called for a plan, funded by Treasury, for the testing of the birds, and a safe way to dispose of the culled animals.

"It is clear that the virus is spreading and that the current method of culling and quarantine is not going to contain further spreading of the virus either," said Steyn.

News24 reported on October 4, that hundreds of thousands of hens have been culled in the Western Cape alone since the first detection of the H5N8 virus on June 22 in Mpumalanga.

The Western Cape is believed to be the hardest hit with 72% of its poultry population affected, while 20% of all breeding stock nationally has been lost, according to that report.

Steyn said if something was not done quickly, businesses would be shut down and jobs would be lost.

Comment was not immediately available from Zokwana's office.

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