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Agricultural Insurance
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Pecking around

Poultry consumption continues to dominate our diets increasing every year to reach 33kg per head of population by 2010. Eggs consumed per person reached 8.5 kg. Meanwhile, beef consumed per capita over the last decade has remained a stable 10kg per annum. Of the estimated gross turnover of R30 billion derived from animal products in the South African agricultural sector poultry alone accounts for R13,5 billion (45%).

It is big business, by any standards, attracting heavy competition, placing costs and margins under pressure. When that happens there can be temptation to cut corners. The industry is particularly vulnerable to disease, for example. Indeed, says Steven Riordan, Executive Leader, Alexander Forbes Risk Services, “Hygiene is the single biggest threat to the success and survival of the industry.”
He says a manageable way to eliminate loss through disease and achieve regulatory compliance would be to institute a General Risk Control Audit Report including ‘Bio-Security’.
This type of report reviews the risk control practices in respect of fire, security, emergency planning, occupational health and safety, and motor vehicles. The Bio-Review covers such things as water quality and control, vaccine control and programmes, hygiene monitoring and feed programmes. It can also address issues such salmonella control, site entrance procedures, sanitation and fumigation policies for all deliveries (feed, gas, coal, litter removal, mortality removal, for instance), and efficiency of spraying programmes.
Similarly, the regime for persons on the property is strict in term of separation of clean and dirty areas, compulsory showering and housekeeping. Control of wild bird entry into chicken houses, security of water points or reservoirs (to prevent ingress of birds etc), control of flies, review of sanitation and fumigation equipment, foot disinfectant dips, rodent bait stations, ban on personal clothing (including jewellery and cell phones) all require attention and enforcement.
“Sanitation of chicken houses is a key area requiring stringent control; for example, the removal of litter, clearing of related vehicles and equipment, and fumigation and washing of the buildings. A post-cleaning monitoring programme to check for bacteria and fungi levels should also be in place.”
Hygiene monitoring includes assessment of bacterial, viral and fungal contamination, vaccination equipment, incubation facilities, air handling units and filters. Likewise, water quality and control tests should be undertaken regularly.
Vaccine controls and programmes are equally important and concern security of stock, record keeping and storage (temperature controls and power failure alarms, for instance). Checking of the actual vaccine schedule against the approved vaccination programme is also necessary.
The aim of the report, as part of a broader risk management programme, is to “improve hygiene while meeting ever more stringent legislative demands both to prevent loss and enable the legal and successful marketing and sale of the products,” explains Riordan.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:25.1 1st January, 2012
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