National Regulatory Services (NRS)
As a result of an increase in trade in regulated agricultural products, illegal import or export of products poses the risk of introducing a range of diseases and pests. The department’s participation at the three tiers Border Control Operations Co-ordinating Committee (BCOCC) was fortified and we are currently a prominent player in developments within this structure. We managed to reduce the numbers of interceptions on noncompliant exports while the interceptions for noncompliant imports increased by 20 % owing to the employment of additional staff at strategic locations and the deployment of the Sedupe K9 (snifferdogs) inspections at OR Tambo International Airport. Inspection and auditing services increased by 25 % during 2006 with special emphasis on programmes for the exporting of fruit and liquor, trade control for compliance of a variety of agricultural products and border control inspections.
During 2006 the department once again managed to control the outbreak of animal diseases effectively. An intensive campaign was launched to combat the outbreak of Classical Swine fever in the Eastern Cape Province by culling large numbers of infected pigs and compensating the owners. The further spreading of the disease was effectively contained by the high level of co-operation and strict control measures that were enforced by the department and provincial departments of agriculture.
The suspension on horse exports from South Africa was repealed in October 2006. Although a few reports of African horsesickness were received outside the controlled area, South Africa’s export status for horses was not affected negatively. A call was made on owners to vaccinate their horses annually.
The EU lifted the ban on the importation of South African ostrich meat in November 2006 after the successful eradication of the outbreak of avian influenza (H5N2 virus) in ostriches in the Western Cape Province in July 2006. We will continue with extensive surveillance of all ostriches and chickens throughout the country. Chickens have remained negative for the H5N2 virus at all times. An avian influenza contingency plan was drafted and implemented in co-operation with the Department of Health. We also embarked on a national media awareness campaign on avian influenza, which included radio advertisements, which were broadcast on 11 SABC radio stations and television advertisements on SABC 1,2,3 and eTV.
To promote the international trade of agricultural products, engagements with trading partners were enhanced with the aim of maintaining existing markets and accessing new ones. These engagements included bilateral negotiations with the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America on citrus exports. Control measures to promulgate new ports of entry and regulate the movement of citrus within South Africa were published. An intensive promotion and awareness campaign on plant health matters was conducted at the ports of entry.
The South African Pesticide Initiative Programme (SAPIP) was set up to assist the horticultural sector to continue to comply with new European Union (EU) legislation on pesticide use and maximum residue levels of pesticides. The programme is currently in its third year and progressing well. Five out of twelve applicants have been selected as part of the capacity-building arm of the programme for emerging farmers. The aim is to strengthen capacity with regard to good agricultural practices in order to maintain and improve the export potential of participants to the EU. More than 4 000 participants will benefit from this project, which will be launched in 2007.
A joint programme between the department and the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB), the agriexport technologists sponsorship programme was initiated to address export requirements among emerging farmers. To date, 25 of the 100 students who will go through the programme have been trained. All students are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and will be required to mentor emerging farmers. A database of emerging horticulture farmers is being developed with the assistance of the Citrus Growers’ Association and other stakeholders. Training in responsible pesticide use as well as the integration of emerging farmers into existing grower associations has now started.