Special economic zone for SA’s plantinum belt

first_imgA special economic zone (SEZ) is to be established in the Rustenburg platinum belt in the North West, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced last week.“The purpose of this SEZ will be to develop industries that use platinum as an input,” Mr Davies said. “These include jewellery, catalytic converters and fuel cell technology.”Davies announced the SEZ in his keynote address on reindustrialisation in South Africa and the Industrial Policy Action Plan (Ipap) as part of the Japan Seminar held at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg last week. The seminar was hosted by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in South Africa and the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO).Davies said his department had made “significant gains” through iterations of Ipap since its inception in the 2007-08 financial year. Achievements were made in the clothing and textile, automotive, agro-processing and film sectors.Private-sector consultation“Ipap is neither a policy document nor a wish list,” he said. “It is a set of time-bound actions which have to be undertaken by different parts of government. These have been successful because they are developed in consultation with the private sector.”He said that, through Ipap, the government had succeeded in developing finance institutions and introducing a suite of incentives to support manufacturing and the competitiveness of companies.The theme of the seminar was Local Industrialisation in South Africa and the Contribution of Japanese Businesses – Lessons from East Asia.Japanese foreign direct investments are steadily increasing in South Africa, the DTI said. Japanese investments in the country have generated around 150 000 jobs. Companies such as Toyota are increasingly becoming involved in supplier development programmes, which are significantly raising the capacity of local manufacturers.The DTI said it had signed memoranda of understanding with JETRO as well as Japanese banks through its Trade and Investment Division.The objective of the agreements is to support the increase of trade between Japan and South Africa and to assist Japanese investors entering the local market.Source: The Department of Trade and IndustryRelated stories:Call for Africa to beneficiate its minerals Zuma announces measures to jump-start economylast_img read more

Avian influenza turning into epidemic

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest After hearing the latest news of more devastating cases of poultry losses in his state, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad called the current avian influenza (AI) outbreak an “epidemic.”On May 1, Iowa declared a state of emergency due to the problem. The latest detections in Iowa involved three turkey farms and a chicken laying operation of about 1 million birds. Over 5.5 million birds have been lost in Iowa alone, the nation’s top egg producing state. Minnesota and Wisconsin had already declared emergency status in April. Nationwide total AI losses are more than 20 million birds.“AI has been percolating relatively quietly in the poultry industry for most of the year. In early March, the first case of the highly-pathogenic H5N2 strain of AI in the Mississippi flyway was confirmed by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on a commercial turkey operation in Minnesota,” said John D. Anderson, Deputy Chief Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation. “Looking ahead, the big question is whether or not highly-pathogenic AI will impact the broiler industry. So far, broilers have not been impacted significantly. The two commercial chicken operations to have confirmed AI cases have both been layer operations. Of course, there are substantial numbers of broiler facilities along the Mississippi flyway, mostly in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri. As the migration season winds down, the likelihood of a full-blown outbreak in the broiler sector should be diminishing, but the possibility remains a real source of uncertainty for the livestock sector this year.”Three worrisome strains of avian flu have been detected in U.S. birds so far. The strains are related to a virus that circulated in Asia and Europe in 2014. In December 2014, they were detected in the Pacific Migratory Bird Flyway, in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. These viruses are classified as highly pathogenic, meaning they are extremely infectious and fatal for birds. Since then, the problem has exploded nationally.“This is obviously a very troublesome situation for the producers affected. We are working very closely with state ag officials and producer groups,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary. “We want to make sure folks are using every bit of biosecurity they can to prevent this from happening. We have a booklet that is available through APHIS that lays out the strategies people can take to prevent this from occurring. We want to make sure that when it does occur it is detected as quickly as possible so we are in a position to depopulate the affected flocks, provide reimbursement and make sure we sanitize the area properly to contain this the best we can. We are also working on vaccines, but AI has a way of mutating and we are hoping we do not see an eastern impact and we hope that export markets remain as open as they can be. We are concerned that 11 or 12 countries have proposed a countrywide ban on poultry from the United States. We don’t think that is consistent with science or international regulations. We will continue to work as best we can to make sure export markets remain open.”The current avian influenza outbreak has not been found in Ohio, but is a concern.“Our highest priority at this time is on protecting our flocks through heightened biosecurity measures that will help prevent introduction of this disease on Ohio’s farms,” said Jim Chakeres, with the Ohio Poultry Association. “Those of us in the egg and poultry farming community remain deeply concerned about the continued spread of avian influenza. While there is no risk to humans from the disease, and eggs, turkey and chicken remain safe to eat, the impact on the nation’s flocks and on the industry overall is devastating,”This has been strictly an avian disease outbreak — human illness has never been reported in relation to this outbreak in North America, Europe or Asia, and poultry products such as chicken and turkey are safe to eat. Still, producers and poultry owners should take all necessary measures to protect their birds, said Mohamed El-Gazzar, poultry veterinarian for Ohio State University Extension who is also an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine.“The first thing is to try to avoid direct contact between any domestic or captive type of bird and wild migratory birds,” El-Gazzar said. “Producers are generally very good about protecting their birds, but they need to be aware that there’s an increased risk.”Backyard poultry owners should consider keeping their birds in enclosed covered runs until the threat from the viruses passes, he said. Poultry owners should not be complacent about these viruses even though they have not been detected in the Midwest, El-Gazzar said.Samples from wild birds collected during the recent hunting season have not yet been analyzed, and few additional samples will be collected until summer. So, although there is no evidence that these viruses might be circulating in Ohio, authorities can’t be certain the state is completely free of them, he said.“While we don’t think there are these highly pathogenic viruses in the Mississippi flyway, we don’t really know for sure,” he said.Anyone who keeps or breeds raptors should also be aware of these viruses, as they have been detected in birds of prey out West, too, El-Gazzar said. Other precautions El-Gazzar recommends include:In addition to avoiding direct contact between migratory and domestic birds, it’s important to prevent indirect contact, as well. “For example, if there’s an open body of water nearby that attracts wild birds, don’t go out, potentially step in fecal material, and then come back to your birds and transmit an infection,” he said.Protect birds from other poultry populations. “We don’t encourage mixing flocks, mixing ages or mixing species,” El-Gazzar said. “Visitors to your bird flock, whether they’re from the neighborhood or from other farms, are highly discouraged.”Commercial producers or backyard poultry owners should boost insect and rodent control efforts. “Make sure your houses are animal-proof, so that raccoons, opossums or any varmints can’t get in, and bird-proof so that wild birds can’t get in.” Such biosecurity measures also include keeping feed and water clean.It’s especially important to protect domestic birds from wild duck populations, El-Gazzar said, because they often don’t show any signs of disease even if they are carrying the virus.“If you’re a poultry owner and have ducks and chickens and turkeys in the same flock, that is a highly risky situation,” El-Gazzar said. “Particularly if ducks are involved, that requires increased biosecurity for the time being.”Even if poultry owners cannot isolate their flocks from migrating birds and other poultry species, it’s at least important to be aware of the increased risk of the virus, El-Gazzar said.“At the first sign of a problem, alert authorities so things can be checked out,” he said. “If you notice increased mortality in an alarming manner, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture. They will speak with you and determine if what you’re seeing matches the pattern of the highly pathogenic influenza.”The animal disease hotline at ODA is 800-300-9755 or 614-728-6220. Updates on the Pacific flyway avian influenza outbreak is online at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website, at www.aphis.usda.gov. For additional information on poultry biosecurity measures, see the service’s poultry biosecurity website at www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/birdbiosecurity/biosecurity/basicspoultry.htm. OSU Extension also has a fact sheet, Biosecurity for Poultry, online at ohioline.osu.edu/vme-fact/0009.html.“We’re not trying to scare anybody,” El-Gazzar said. “Currently we don’t have any problems with this group of viruses here in Ohio, that we know of.“We’re just saying be aware of the problems out west, which might represent some risk to the Ohio poultry producers and backyard poultry owners. Just be aware and do everything you can to protect your birds.”last_img read more

Set up anti-trafficking units, HC tells W.B.

first_imgThe Calcutta High Court has directed the West Bengal government to set up an anti-human trafficking unit headed by a specially trained officer, preferably a woman, in every district of the State.Any FIR registered under the sections of Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956, and sections 370, 372, 373 of the Indian Penal Code or under the provisions of the POCSO Act, involving commercial sexual exploitation of women, should be investigated by the anti-human trafficking unit, the High Court said in its order. The police station where the FIR is registered will hand over such cases to the unit in 24 hours, stated the order delivered last week by a Division Bench of Justices Ravi Krishan Kapur and Joymalya Bagchi.Alarming numbers The direction assumes significance as Bengal has recorded the maximum cases of trafficking in the country. According to the latest NCRB data, Bengal in 2016 recorded 3,579 cases of human trafficking (44%) among 8,132 cases recorded in the country. The Bench gave the order while cancelling the anticipatory bail granted to Sangita Sahu, owner of a hotel in Joka area, by a lower court.She is accused under ITPA, POSCO Act and sections of IPC dealing with human trafficking. The Bench noted that “the menace of trafficking of women and minors have assumed alarming proportions”, and expressed concern over the “lackadaisical manner in which offences involving commercial sexual exploitation of women and children like the present one are investigated, prosecuted and/or pursued”. The High Court’s direction has been welcomed by a number of non-government organisations working against commercial sexual exploitation of children and women.Saji Philip, director of operations, International Justice Mission, Kolkata, the organisation which aided the investigative agencies in the raid at Ms. Sahu’s hotel in September 2017 where 30 people were arrested, called the order a “fresh lease of life in dealing with cases relating to trafficking of children and women”. “This order will strengthen existential directives and aim at fixing the lacunae in each step of trafficking cases, including rescue, rehabilitation and prosecution,” Mr. Philip said.last_img read more