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Posted by W von Papinešu on December 26, 2002 at 09:47:09:
CARMARTHEN JOURNAL (UK) 25 December 02 Snakes Firm Looks To Grow
A leading Teifi Valley firm might have to branch out of Wales if it wants to keep on expanding.
MicroPharm, a company which makes life saving antidotes against snakes, spiders and scorpions, says it is looking for farms abroad after becoming a victim of its own success.
The company, which is based in Newcastle Emlyn and Llandysul, says there isn't enough room in the area for it to develop a big sheep flock to help it create the antibodies.
It currently has a flock of 2,000 sheep, but bosses say the small size of traditional Welsh farms mean they have limited room to expand.
Professor John Landon said: "It is difficult on small farms in Wales, with small fields, to have very large flocks. We have 300 sheep making the carpet viper antibodies.
"We will have to get up to much larger numbers of sheep and we are currently looking at areas in New Zealand, Australia or South Africa."
But company bosses say that any expansion would improve the firm's business in west Wales.
MicroPharm work has been backed by the Welsh Assembly and the Nigerian Ministry of Health, and Nigeria Health Minister Professor ABC Nwosu visited the plant in April to commission the manufacturing facility.
It is now also hoping to work with the Nigerian Government in order to set up a production unit for antidotes to the Nigerian Carpet Viper.
The Nigerian Carpet Viper (Echis Ocellatus) is responsible for more than 1,000 deaths in the country each year.
The Nigerian Carpet Viper's natural colouring enables it to blend in with its surroundings to devastating effect.
In the worst affected areas during the sowing and harvesting seasons, about 50% of all hospital beds will be occupied by snake-bite victims.
Many of the victims, usually children and agricultural workers, die as a result of suffering uncontrolled bleeding and paralysis.