Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
THE country is not affected by South Africa and Botswana Governments’ decision to ban Zimbabwean chicken products as the country hardly exports poultry produce, players in the industry have said.
The two neighbouring countries effected the ban this week following an outbreak of bird flu in the country.
The bird flu was detected at Irvine’s Private Limited last week forcing the Government to quarantine the company’s white meat and egg sub-sector to curb the spread of the deadly flu.
The highly pathogenic virus killed 7 000 birds and the company had to depopulate by slaughtering an additional 140 000 birds to prevent the spread of the disease.
Avian influenza is fatal with nearly a 70 percent death rate but the disease seems not to affect humans.
As news broke about the outbreak of H5N8 flu, the country’s neighbours quickly moved to ban the importation of Zimbabwe’s poultry products. However, Zimbabwe Poultry Farmers Association (ZPFA) chairman Retired Colonel George Nare said the industry is unfazed by the neighbouring countries’ restrictions.
“Apparently, we are importing more chicken from South Africa. I don’t believe we are exporting chicken to South Africa and Botswana. Remember even the duty was increased to protect the local poultry industry,” he said.
Local producers of chicken and chicken products are failing to meet local demand and as such are not exporting.
Rtd Col Nare said the bird flu situation was under control and has not been recorded anywhere else besides Irvine’s Private Limited. “As an association, regionally we have not experienced its threats. We believe that we are a bird flu free zone and none of our members have reported any case and even the veterinary officers have not brought it to our attention,” he said.
Rtd Col Nare however said they were closely monitoring the situation and were in constant communication with Government officials.
South Africa’s department of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries and Veterinary Services released a statement stating that they have suspended licences for those importing chicken from Zimbabwe.“South Africa imports very little products from Zimbabwe, all importers were notified that their import permits or any permits which had not been used should be returned to the department with immediate effect,” read the Ministry’s statement.
Botswana government also said the importation of domesticated and wild birds, their products (meat, feathers etc) and poultry feed from Zimbabwe is banned with immediate effect.
The Government has urged poultry farmers to enhance their bio-security measures to promote tight and continuous separation from wild birds, while the exact source, thought to be wild ducks and geese in a nearby water body, is being investigated. — @nqotshili clred