South Africa's animal vaccines shortage impedes growth and jobs creation | Western Cape Government


South Africa's animal vaccines shortage impedes growth and jobs creation

11 May 2023

“Farmers cannot afford any further setbacks after having survived a drought that decimated many herds. Farmers are still trying to recover and rebuild their herds. No business can survive constant decimation of its asset base repeatedly over a short space of time” says Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer.

Meyer was responding to a recent media statement issued by Mr James Faber, National Chairperson of the Red Meat Producers Organization (RPO), which depicts a worrying scenario unfolding in the country and adversely affecting livestock producers.

Farber highlights that producers are battling an unravelling state of disaster facing the livestock sector. They face the possibility of losing up to 50% of their herds due to their inability to protect their herds by vaccinating them against deadly diseases such as Bluetongue. The equine industry is also at risk of higher mortalities due to a shortage of African Horse Sickness vaccines.

Minister Meyer said it is sad and ironic that South Africa’s once flagship facility, Onderstepoort, which for decades was considered the world leader in supplying vaccines finds itself in a state of disaster.

Meyer said: “Many decades of maladministration and inability to appoint experienced and competent staff has led to the demise of the Onderstepoort facility”.

Minister Meyer drew attention to the fact that our neighbouring countries historically sourced their vaccines from Onderstepoort for decades.

“Unreliability of prompt supply from Ondersterpoort has led to them investing in their own facilities. The Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) is such a facility”, adds Meyer.

“Over a short space of time, the BVI  has become a world-class facility that is ironically now supplying South Africa with vaccines that include Foot and Mouth Disease vaccines.

Minister Meyer also highlighted the frustrations and delays experienced by private producers when they submit the dossiers for consideration by authorities (Office of the Registrar, Act 36  & SAHPRO).

Meyer said: “Licences and permits to import or manufacture these crucial vaccines must be issued to capable and willing manufacturers who can solve the disaster facing our country.”

“The national government must remove the stumbling blocks. Not doing so impacts directly on our agricultural economy as it discourages investors and negatively impacts livestock owners”, added Meyer.

Meyer remarked that the Western Cape accounts for more than half of the country’s agricultural exports with the livestock sector accounting for almost 50% thereof.

Meyer said: “International markets have put stringent requirements in place that must be met before export products are permitted to land. Disease management with vaccinations plays a crucial role towards the attainment of those requirements. The unavailability of vaccines will harm the export of  livestock and related products into crucial international markets.”

“A lack of vaccines simply translates to a lack of job-creating opportunities. South Africa with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world can least afford any impediments to job creation”, concluded Meyer.

For further enquiries, contact Dr Gininda Msiza on 084 6046705,  email:


Media Enquiries: 

Daniel Johnson

Spokesperson for Minister Ivan Meyer

Tel: 079 990 4231