The Western Cape Department of Agriculture urges farmers not to buy livestock from unknown origins.

This warning follows the recent outbreaks of Foot and Mouth disease in 5 of the country’s provinces.

The Department warns that animals, bought and trucked from KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, the North-West, Gauteng, and Free State provinces may lead to the spread of the virus to cloven-hoofed animals here in the Western Cape.

State Veterinarian, Dr. Vivien Malan warns that infected animals can spread the disease before they start showing any clinical symptoms.

Foot and mouth disease is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock, including cattle, pigs, sheep and goats.

The virus is found in all body fluids, such as saliva, urine, faeces, milk and the air that diseased animals expel.

Animals get this disease when eating or breathing in the virus from these body fluids. People can also spread the virus through contaminated clothing, shoes, hands, equipment and tyres.

Sick animals get blisters and sores in the mouth and on the feet, making it difficult for the animal to eat and walk and often cause drooling. As a result, farmers lose money because sick animals lose weight, do not grow and produce less milk. Young calves may also die.

Farmers can protect their livestock by applying biosecurity measures. All of these are sound principles to follow to prevent the introduction of any disease:

  • Be vigilant about where new animals come from. Do not buy animals if you do not know their origin or if they come from a place where they had contact with other animals of unknown origin. Only buy from owners with known healthy animals, preferably that can provide a health attestation for their animals from a veterinarian.
  • Keep new animals separate for two weeks and monitor them for any signs of disease before mixing them with the rest of your herd. Infected animals can take up to two weeks before showing signs of foot and mouth disease, so animals that look healthy are not necessarily safe.
  • Do not allow your animals to have contact with animals belonging to other owners.
  • Do not allow unnecessary visitors onto your farm.
  • Disinfect hands, shoes, clothing, vehicles and equipment on entry to the farm and between groups of animals being kept separate.
  • Report any signs of disease immediately to your local state or private vet. Do not move or sell sick animals.

Contact details of your local State Veterinary Office can be found at https://www.elsenburg.com/veterinary-services/animal-health-and-disease-control/

Read more here.

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The Western Cape Department of Agriculture says it has made R5 million available to provide support to farmers to fight off a devastating locust plague.

The funds will be used to provide affected farmers with PPE, sprayer pumps, and aerial spraying support.

MEC Ivan Meyer says the swarms of locusts have now migrated into the Calitzdorp, Ladismith, and Oudtshoorn areas while the Swellendam and Barrydale areas are also under threat.

Read more here.

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While government debates easing legislation and unlocking the potential of the cannabis industry, the Western Cape is importing more cannabis than what it exports. At the State of the Nation Address on 10 February 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised that legislation would be eased for both maximum profits of cannabis production in SA and export abroad.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture says it’s aware that right now there is a trade imbalance and there is more to unlock from the cannabis industry and that domestic supply can easily meet demand but it currently is not:

• The Western Cape province’s export of hemp fibre is mainly composed of processed true hemp.
• Exports of processed hemp show an upward trend, increasing from an export value of R166,6 thousand in 2020 to R522,4 in 2021 (or +214%).
• This growth may be supported by recent interest and support towards the cannabis industry.
• Western Cape’s exports of hemp in 2021 were mainly destined to Namibia (53%) and the United Kingdom (46%).
• The Western Cape imported hemp valued at R672 thousand in 2021 (R313 thousand – raw hemp and R359 thousand – processed hemp).
• Approximately 53% of imported hemp was from Croatia, followed by the Netherlands (39%) and China (8%)

Leslie Zetler is the co-owner of Felbridge, a cannabis cultivation business in Stellenbosch and he says that right now their main business is in Switzerland. Known for their strawberry crops, the Zetlers took an agricultural risk a few years ago and now export various cannabis products abroad.

Zetler says they have given input to government’s Cannabis Master Plan and are hopeful that in the near future the ease of doing business improves

Smile 90.4 FM News spoke to Zetler about the current cannabis market:

The Western Cape provincial government has launched the Red Dot Taxi service.

The initiative was officially launched at the Saxonsea vaccine site in Atlantis and will assist residents, who do not have transport get to vaccination sites for their Covid-19 vaccination.

Premier Alan Winde says the Red Dot Taxi service consists of a fleet of 135 mini-bus taxis.

Read more on the initiative here.

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The Western Cape MEC for Agriculture, Ivan Meyer says his Department will now work even harder to boost and support the local cannabis industry.

Meyer this week visited the the Felbridge Cannabis Farm outside Stellenbosch.

He says the sector has enormous potential in developing SMMEs and attracting domestic and foreign investment.

The South African cannabis industry is estimated at R28-billion and can create between 10 000 to 25 000 jobs.

Meyer says the cannabis industry is global, and the Western Cape wants to create jobs in this growing industry.

Read MEC Meyer’s full statement here.

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