Bird Flu: Agriculture dept. briefing to Parliament needed

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The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Machwene Semenya, to request that she call the Minister, Senzeni Zokwana, to brief Parliament on plans to contain the bird flu following reports of cases of the virus in Mpumalanga and the Free State.

South Africa has never had an outbreak of bird flu before. Currently, roughly 19 000 chickens are scheduled to be culled after contracting the highly contagious virus, while 5 000 have already died.

Given the possible major implications for the poultry industry, including the ostrich industry, Parliament must be briefed urgently on what plans the Department has in place to contain the outbreak as well as just how far the flu has spread.

Farmers stand to lose their poultry and this will negatively affect the country’s chicken exports – the last thing the South African agricultural sector needs is to have its exports seen as undesirable and, worst of all, banned.

Various media outlets have reported that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has imposed a ban on the sale of live chickens, but there is no official confirmation of this from the Department.

Farmers, as well as the rest of the country, need to know the extent of the bird flu outbreak so action can be taken to stop the spread of the virus.

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