Conservation International and Peace Parks Foundation Issue Recommendations in Wake of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreak
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (Jan. 15, 2019) – Conservation International and Peace Parks Foundation are urging policy makers in South Africa to use a non-geographic based trade approach following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle in the Vhembe District of Limpopo, South Africa. Foot-and-mouth disease, which affects cloven hoofed livestock and wildlife, has the potential to not only devastate southern Africa’s agriculture, but to also pose a huge threat to conservation and rural development. While the virus is highly contagious, it does not affect people or pose a public health risk like listeria or mad cow disease.
The management of the outbreak has the potential to have a significant economic impact due to bans on movement and exports of livestock. Farmers in the infected zones cannot move their animals and associated products outside of the area, effectively eliminating their ability to sell and earn income. The export ban also affects the entire livestock industry due to the crash in domestic prices.
Geographic-based bans also have negative environmental impacts. In southern Africa and across the region, foot-and-mouth disease naturally occurs in free roaming African buffalo that reside in large conservation areas. These areas and surrounding landscapes, are therefore deemed infected zones. As a result, communities living adjacent to wildlife areas have no way to derive a livelihood from their livestock, resulting in reduced animal off-take during dry periods. Guided by outdated international trade standards, governments spend fortunes to build or try to maintain game-proof fences that separate infected zones from others. In many instances, such fences severely affect biodiversity conservation and tourism development efforts.
Sarah Frazee, Chief Executive Officer, Conservation International South Africa, joins others in making the following policy recommendations:
- Policy-makers must adopt and implement an already available “commodity-based trade” (CBT) standard that focuses on the risk associated with the product to be traded as opposed to the risk associated with the area of origin. This non-geographic based trade approach does not require disease free status for exports or local trade, but rather relies on risk mitigation measures implemented along the value chain of a product. This approach radically reduces the impact of an outbreak by ensuring non-infected animals are still able to be used to generate revenue and livelihoods if products derived from it can be proved to pose negligible risk.
- Legislatures must respond to this latest threat by integrating and creating an enabling policy framework for commodity-based trade that is science-based. The testing and development of non-geographic trade standards for both domestic and international trade must become a national priority in line with the vision of the Southern African Development Community who resolved to support CBT since the Phakalane Declaration in 2012.
“Establishing “no trade zones” and placing blanket export bans hurt livestock farmers and conservation alike,” said Frazee. “A non-geographic, science based trade approach is much more effective in mitigating socio-economic losses for farmers and for conservation and development, while still maintaining the appropriate health and biosafety measures.”
Since 2017, through the Herding for Health Programme, Conservation International, Peace Parks Foundation and South African National Parks have supported a new social enterprise, Meat Naturally, to pioneer the use of commodity-based trade protocols to facilitate market access for communal farmers living adjacent to Kruger National Park in exchange for improved rangeland management and wildlife protection in the buffer zone. Gerbrand Nel, general manager of Meat Naturally, states, “the outbreak has already caused a 50 percent decrease in prices paid to farmers in our operating areas.”
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About Conservation International
Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “My Africa”, “Under the Canopy” and “Valen’s Reef.” Follow Conservation International’s work on our Human Nature blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
About Peace Parks Foundation
The Peace Parks Foundation dream is to reconnect Africa’s wild spaces to create a future for man in harmony with nature. In order to achieve its vision of “Restoring Tomorrow” for life on earth, the Foundation works to renew and preserve large, functional ecosystems that stretch across international boundaries through the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas. In so doing Peace Parks safeguards the integrity of biological diversity, whilst protecting and regenerating vital natural resources and cultural heritage. At the same time the Foundation contributes to the development of shared economic benefits and poverty alleviation by harnessing the potential for ecotourism development to provide sustainable economic growth, as well as fosters community engagement and beneficiation initiatives for those living in and around these conservation areas.