South Africa lifts red meat export ban

South Africa has lifted restrictions on red meat exports, but kept a ban on the movement of live animals following a suspected outbreak of foot and mouth disease in February, the agriculture minister said on Tuesday.

“The exportation of meat and meat products would be allowed but the ban on the movement of live animals stays,” Tina Joemat-Pettersson told journalists ahead of her budget vote speech to parliament.

In February, South Africa banned exports of beef and other livestock after an outbreak of the highly contagious FMD virus in the eastern part of the country. The disease causes lesions and crippling in cattle and sheep but is not harmful to humans.

Agriculture ministry officials said African states, including Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, were interested in purchasing the meat products, which posed “very limited” risk.

She said South Africa, the continent’s top maize producer, needed to develop its downstream industry to completely eradicate problems exporting surplus crops.

South Africa harvested its biggest crop in 30 years in the 2009/10 season, leaving it with a surplus of about 4-million tonnes that it has struggled to sell.

The minister said traders from the Far East and Middle East were interested in purchasing the extra grain.

South Africa was looking to sell perishable products, grain, livestock as well as processed goods into the world’s best performing emerging economies, she said.—Reuters

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