Gaborone – Poultry farmers in the SADC region are on tenterhooks amidst fears that the recently reported avian influenza outbreak in South Africa could shake the poultry industry across several countries.
Some of South Africa’s neighbours – Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Namibia have already banned poultry purchases from that country; and the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE) believes the region’s poultry industry is under threat.
South Africa is the largest importer and exporter of poultry in the SADC region.
AMIE’s Ms Zola Brunner told The Southern Times this week said the association preferred a situation where countries imposed restrictions on imports from the specific area where a virus was reported, rather than blanket bans.
“Exports can then continue safely from the unaffected areas. We have experienced a scenario where Botswana has banned poultry imports from South Africa and Zimbabwe in the past in order to protect the local industry, even though only five percent of the country’s poultry is imported,” she said.
According to Ms Brunner “even that small reduction in imports led to a significant rise in prices”.
Dr Mpho Maja, the director of South Africa’s Animal Health Department, has been quoted saying that negotiations are ongoing to minimise the impact of a ban on poultry exports from the country.
AMIE says Lesotho gets 53.3 percent of its poultry products from South Africa, while the figures for Mozambique and Namibia were 28.2 percent and 10.1 percent.
South Africa exported 53,641 tonnes of poultry products in 2019. Egg exports in that year came to 14,458 tonnes.
The avian flu outbreak was reported a fortnight ago in Ekurhuleni in South Africa, with the affected farmer having to quickly destroy about 240,000 chickens to prevent the virus from spreading. Another outbreak has been detected in North West Province.