Parliamentary Question: DAFF: Bio- Security



Ms D Carter (Cope) to ask the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries:

Whether her department is on track in developing seven initiatives for increased access to biosecurity services for all beneficiaries over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?


Bio-security services include animal and plant health services, food safety services and support mechanisms for all these services including food safety measures, laboratory services, border control measures and inspectorate services. According to the FAO definition of Bio-security “(it) encompasses all policy and regulatory frameworks (including instruments and activities) to manage risks associated with food and agriculture (including relevant environmental risks), including fisheries and forestry”. Bio-security is composed of three sectors, namely food safety, plant life and health, and animal life and health.
(a)Food safety

The Department is on track in crafting the framework for the Food Safety Agency. In this regard, a country profile has been concluded and the department has been in consultation with the Department of Trade and Industry on the proposed policy framework for a Food Safety Agency.

Currently various promotional activities are ongoing to increase awareness on food safety matters.
(b)Plant life

Surveillance on exotic plant pests and diseases; and controlled pests and diseases in terms of the Agricultural Pests Act, 1983 are currently being conducted. These surveillance programmes include the Bactrocera invadens survey in Limpopo; Aster Yellow Plasma survey in the Western Cape; the Citrus Greening survey in the Eastern Cape and Golden Cyst Nematode survey on potato growing areas of the country.   

With regard to plant health, the major focus is on promotion and awareness on bio-security matters. Awareness/ promotional materials are developed on an ongoing basis and distributed through the departmental website and participation in appropriate departmental, provincial and other events. 

Ongoing associated activities include visits to provinces to inform subsistence and small scale farmers on bio-security services offered by the Department for the purpose on local trading and import and export.

Diagnostic services for plant pests and diseases are provided by DAFF, however these are in support of the regulatory services domain rather than as commercial laboratory services. Current diagnostic capacity therefore provides only for supporting phyto-sanitary export programs and import regulatory measures, primarily interceptions of phyto-sanitary non-compliance and post entry plant quarantine. Much still needs to be done to broaden the services to all.

In order to promote the provision of basic plant health services at production level to subsistence and smallholder farmers, work is continuing on a strategy to harness fragmented national capacity and knowledge to ensure coordinated basic plant health services that are closely linked to the national extension programme.

On plant production, the Department is finalizing input support package for small holder farmers.
(c)Animal Life

For the financial year 2011/12 treasury approved R80 million for the Primary Animal Health Care and Compulsory Community Service (CCS) combined activity in the first year. Funding will be approved for three financial years in succession.

Animal health technicians will be equipped with tools necessary to deliver basic services to all. Animal health technicians will deliver PAHC (Primary Animal Health Care) services to beneficiaries in rural areas.

Diseases and conditions that will be of priority in the Primary Animal health care will be vaccination of preventable diseases (especially those which are communicable to humans like Rift Valley Fever, Rabies, Anthrax, training and provision of basic services like calving problems, taking samples for abortions; Vector born infectious diseases that are fatal to animals and other health conditions that will assist in improving human health. Furthermore, animal husbandry and management skills that will benefit animal production in a sustainable agriculture for subsistence and smallholder farmers will be implemented.

Animal recording and Improvement schemes will be reviewed to broaden the services and ensure that communal farmers improve their livestock.