THE Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in South Africa has hamstrung Lesotho meat businesses, says Secretary General of the Meat Traders Association of Lesotho, Teboho Motšepe.
April 22, 2022
4 min read
Foot-and-mouth hits meat market
A cow with the Foot and Mouth disease
- Basotho spend M6 billion on meat imports
- Farmers warned to keep new arrivals from their own animals
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“Lesotho does not produce Grade A meat at all and we exclusively import it from South Africa because it is soft and tender,” he said.
“And it is the most wanted meat in the market because it makes good business for chesa nyama businesses and those offering catering services.”
Mr Motšepe said now that the importation of red meat was difficult due to the outbreak, businesses were suffering and losing lots of money.
“We are selling nothing on our shelves now,” he said, adding that it was normal that prices shot up when the supply was low and demand was high.
He said the disease broke out at the time that the local feedlot and national abattoir had shut down since November last year.
“Our only option is to slaughter in our backyards,” he said.
Amid the outbreak, Mr Motšepe said there should be vigilance at the borders to ensure control of red meat importation.
“There should be strict control of movement of the animals across the borders,” he said. “Failing to do this could have a devastating impact on the economy of the country.”
But Director of Marketing in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), Lekhooe Makhate, said not all South African provinces were affected by the outbreak.
The department, he said was still issuing permits despite the outbreak as the South African government had taken measures to contain the disease.
Information from the ministry shows that in 2019, the country spent M6 billion on South Africa’s red meat imports.
The meat included beef, pork, chicken and other processed meat products like sausages.
Following the outbreak, South Africa’s department of agriculture said stakeholders should abide by all veterinary movement restrictions.
The department also warned that the players in the industry should know the health status of the animals they invested in.
“Only buy animals that originate from known and proven sources,” the department said in a statement.
“Avoid buying animals from live auctions where animals have gathered from many different origins, especially if not intended for immediate slaughter.”
The department insists on a veterinary health declaration before animals are traded or slaughtered.
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The farmers have been warned to keep the new arrivals separately from their own animals for at least 28 days.
This should happen until the farmer is satisfied that the animals are healthy.
The farmers are further warned to improve biosecurity on their farms to protect their animals from diseases coming onto the farms and to avoid nose-to-nose contact with the neighbours’ cattle.
The department has warned that animals showing suspicious clinical symptoms (salivation, blisters in the mouth, limping or hoof lesions) must not be moved under any circumstances.
Principal veterinary doctor in the MAFS, Dr Relebohile Mahloane said they were still working on a plan to save Basotho from the outbreak while at the same time trading with South Africa should continue without posing any danger.
Dr Mahloane said the department had been working over Easter holidays to come up with strategies to control the outbreak.
He said a press statement would be issued this week outlining how imported red meat from South Africa should be handled.
“We are aware of the impact the outbreak could have on the economy if not planned well,” he said.