Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Agriculture and Rural Development Lebogang Maile has expressed concern about the effects on job security as a result of the avian influenza outbreak, commonly known as bird flu.
Maile yesterday visited Rooikraal Arendes, one of the hardest hit farms in the province, which has stopped its operations due to the outbreak.
“We want to put the poultry industry back into the path of progress so that it can continue to contribute to job creation in our province. We are extremely concerned about the potential job losses in the sector as a result of the bird flu outbreak,” said Maile.
There are thirteen confirmed cases of bird flu in Gauteng. Affected areas include Benoni, Vanderbijlpark, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.
Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo also discovered more than 580 wild bird carcasses around the Westdene and Emmarentia dams, Zoo Lake and the Johannesburg Zoo.
Poultry farmers in Gauteng, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga confirmed the first cases of bird flu in June, while the Eastern Cape saw the first signs of an outbreak in September.
Food and Allied Workers Union spokesperson Dominique Swartz-Martin said that the avian flu outbreak has been a great concern for the union.
“It is not just our workers that are affected but our consumers from poorer households too,” she said.
The Gauteng provincial government has declared measures to prevent the spread of the flu in the province.
A total of 77 000 birds have been culled and more than 2 million eggs destroyed. One farm in Germiston is also under quarantine.
The minister said that they “are very thankful to our stakeholders for the cooperation thus far and as the provincial government, we undertake to intensify our efforts to contain the outbreak in our province.”
Swartz-Martin said the union has not received any reports of job losses but was paying close attention to the progress of the outbreak.
“It remains a big concern for us,” she said.