W Cape State vets at the centre of efforts to increase agricultural exports

Western Cape State veterinarians have been lauded for the province’s efforts to increase agricultural exports.

According to the Western Cape MEC for Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, the province is responsible for 55% of South Africa’s primary agricultural exports, with nearly 50% being livestock or livestock products.

The MEC was addressing 1 500 delegates from 48 different countries attending the 39th World Veterinary Association Congress, which is currently underway at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town.

Meyer said the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services recently launched its innovative online electronic Export Certificate Office System (ECOS).

‘ECOS provides the customer with a 24-hour export facilitation service, reducing the export certificate application process from days to minutes. The platform streamlines the export process and ensures compliance with international standards. Exports contribute to foreign exchange earnings and a 5% increase in exports
will lead to approximately 22 000 new jobs in the agriculture sector in the Western Cape,’ he explained.

He also announced that the Western Cape Government’s (WCG) R30 million revamp of the Provincial Veterinary Laboratory facilities has been completed and that the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) and International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 17025 certificated laboratory re-opened on 1 April 2024.

Expressing his concern about the shortage of veterinarians, Meyer said the international norm for veterinary services is 200 to 400 veterinarians per million of the population. In comparison, South Africa has around 60 to 70 veterinarians per million.

‘This represents only 25% of our requirements. Therefore, this is a great concern, which puts the country’s food security and human health at risk. A fully staffed veterinary service is a critical enabler to a thriving agriculture sector in the province. The agriculture sector creates jobs and drives economic growth.’

Commenting furth
er on conditions under which live animals are transported at sea, Meyer stated that the unacceptable conditions in which live animals are transported highlight the need to consider placing a ban on the transport of live animals and the importance of biosecurity.

‘This year, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture will prioritise veterinary services and biosecurity. Organisations such as the World Veterinary Association and the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) will play a key role in strengthening our response to the challenges facing the profession and our sector. We must defend animal welfare and advance biosecurity,’ Meyer said.

Source: South African Government News Agency