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Ostrich industry pained by ban

Pieter Mulder says the ostrich industry is suffering under an EU ban on ostrich meat imports.

A juvenile ostrich on an Oudtshoorn farm. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - South Africa's Ostrich industry remains in a crisis.

Thousands of birds have been culled since last year's outbreak of Avian influenza in the Western Cape.

The European Union has yet to lift its ban on ostrich meat imports, with the industry losing out on about R100 million each month.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Pieter Mulder said they were working on having the EU lift the ban as soon as possible.

"We had three very good meetings between the industry and the department, trying to get alternative methods to solve this problem. Up until now, we've been lucky. There were no new outbreaks in the last few months - normally this happens around the summer months. So, we may be getting through to the other side."

Mulder said that while they were waiting for ostrich farms to re-register, the ban has been taking its toll.

"A lot of people are going bankrupt. A lot of workers are losing their jobs, which is a crisis that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. But if we are not responsible, the illness can go over to other industries, which will cause more devastation."