Lovemore Zigara, Midlands Bureau
POULTRY producers could be forced to import hatching eggs from Europe on the back of local and regional shortages that were triggered by the outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza virus commonly known as bird flu.
Gweru-based chicken producer, Fairhill Chickens is already feeling the pinch and is making efforts to source hatching eggs from Europe following the outbreak of bird flu in the region, particularly South Africa recently.
The H5N8 has been detected in several countries around the globe whose spread is aided by wild birds’ migration. Fairhill Chickens managing director, Mr Trevor Shaw, told Business Chronicle that while importing from Europe was very expensive, they are left with no option because Sadc countries are failing to satisfy local demand.
“We have made plans to get hatching eggs from other places particularly Europe. Government has taken off 40 percent duty on hatching eggs from non-Sadc countries and we are now able to bring hatching eggs from Europe,” he said.
“This is because there is no surplus from other Sadc countries because South Africa, which is the biggest producer has also been hit hard by bird flu and its products have been suspended.
“We are, however, receiving hatching eggs from Zambia and Botswana but they are not adequate.”
Mr Shaw however said he feared the importation of hatching eggs might trigger price increases in poultry products as it was expensive to import from Europe.
“What this means is that chicks are going to cost a dollar each up from 55 cents a month ago.
“This is an almost 100 percent increase in the price of the chicks which might affect the price of chickens,” he said.
Mr Shaw said despite the setbacks, players in the industry were confident of growth and were happy that there is a decline in cases of smuggling of chickens from neighbouring countries.