News Bulletin for August 2014

Significance of Public Private Partnership

The public sector involvement in industries has been reducing over years due to limited resources, both human and financial. This is a global phenomenon that is necessitated by limited growth of the government tax coffers. There is a constant tug of war between various government priorities that make it difficult to make enough resources available to meet all priorities. It is for this reason that the private sector is getting more involved in activities that were previously delivered by the public sector. This is the case with veterinary services, where government used to provide most of the services free of charge to public. Services such as dipping, vaccinations, deworming and primary health care were delivered to the farmers free of charge.

Due to the progressively reducing resources, farmers are now sourcing these services from private veterinarians at their own cost. It is also true of controlled diseases, where commercial farmers are responsible for testing and control of these diseases in their livestock. Even in instances where eradication of diseases is required, the farmer takes the responsibility without any guarantees of realising compensation to the full value of his/her livestock.

The situation is the same for the poultry industry in South Africa which currently receives services from both private and public veterinarians. There is very little involvement of the state veterinarians in the day to day operations of the commercial producers. Unfortunately, there is also limited involvement of state veterinarians in the backyard and small scale poultry operations. There is therefore a large portion of poultry owners who do not receive any veterinary support due to the fact that they cannot afford private veterinarians and the state veterinarians have competing priorities.

The decline in resources has been happening at the back of increasing consumer awareness and demands. The consumer wants good quality food and affordable prices. To produce good quality food is costly. While the producers are not able to increase the prices in line with the increased costs because the animal products have to compete with other basic good that also on the rise resulting in limited affordability.

PDMA as a Public Private Initiative

Through the concerns that were raised, it was evident that a lack of co-regulating relationship between the public and private sectors still exist, resulting in the compromise of food safety, animal health and welfare. To address these problems, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) saw it fit to establish a veterinary component called the Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA) as link that would focus on the protection and health of the National Flock and also strengthen the relationship between the Public and Private veterinary services in addressing animal health issues collectively.

The existence of the PDMA frees government to focus on regulatory issues, without neglecting the producers. The government sets the rules and the business through the PDMA implements the rules. The PDMA ensures that all poultry producers, big and small can implement the rules set out by the government. A study by Martinez et al, (2007), demonstrated that there are various levels of government interventions (fig.1), from no intervention to direct command and control intervention. It is clear that doing nothing is never an option and that with decreasing government resources, direct command and control is also not possible. Many countries are opting for PPP to reach a level of government intervention that is somewhere in the middle.  The PDMA is such a PPP tool that the poultry industry has elected to use.

 Fig. 1. Options for public intervention. Source: Martinez et al, Food Policy 32 (2007) 299-314

The PDMA has outlined the following as areas of priority:

  1. Engage national and local government on issues of disease control in the South African poultry industry.
  2. Make use of the database of poultry farms in South Africa to assist DAFF with monitoring of notifiable disease such as Avian Influenza, Salmonella and Newcastle Disease, while using it to develop monitoring programmes for important disease such as Infectious Bronchitis.
  3. Appoint or designate veterinarians with expertise in poultry diseases in each Province who would be available to assist state veterinarians in the event of disease outbreaks in commercial, smallholder and subsistence poultry in those provinces.
  4. Investigate the role of the PDMA in training state veterinarians and/or Animal Health Technicians so as to improve the service delivered by the state in the event of disease outbreaks on poultry farms.
  5. Consider developing a residue monitoring programme for poultry products nationally, or at least a database of residue monitoring data which is available.
  6. Deliver improved technical and veterinary support to smallholder poultry farmers so that they can achieve greater production success in collaboration with State Veterinary services or through the PDMA’s own initiatives.
  7. Collaborate with the ostrich industry.

The success of the PDMA and its initiatives will aid in combating poultry diseases, improving the quality of poultry products, assisting with Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary Standards that improve access to markets, improved communication between public  and private entities, and making the poultry industry an inclusive industry where small scale producers have access to opportunities.

The value of the PDMA is evident in the interactions with the following government entities:

  1. Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries
    1. DAFF Animal Health
    1. DAFF Veterinary Public Health
    1. DAFF Food Safety and Quality Assurance
    1. DAFF Agriculture Inputs Control
    1. DAFF Animal Production
  2. The dti
  3. Department of Science and Technology
  4. Public and Private Laboratories
  5. Training Institutions
  6. Other animal products organisations and associations

In concluding

Given the threat posed by poultry infectious diseases such as Newcastle as well as other zoonotic diseases in South Africa. Co-regulation of veterinary services will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of animal health care delivery and, consequently disease free poultry productivity. It will also aid in safeguarding public health, and contribute to national poultry development. The end result should be a public veterinary service that is better positioned to carry out its regulatory responsibilities, a functioning private sector and the necessary supporting personnel and infrastructure able to contribute to the combined objectives.

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