Lovemore Zigara, Midlands Bureau
GWERU-based poultry producer, Fairhill Chickens’ production has plummeted by more than 25 percent owing to the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza virus commonly known as bird flu, which broke out in the country in May.
The H5N8 has been detected in several countries around the globe and its spread is aided by wild bird migration.
Fairhill Chicken farm managing director, Mr Trevor Shaw said production at the farm has decreased by 25 percent to 30 000 birds per week following Sadc’s ban on poultry products from Zimbabwe due to Avian Flu outbreak.
“Since the bird flu affected Zimbabwe, our poultry products were banned from being sold into Sadc markets and later South Africa also experienced the same problem. Since then hatching eggs from South Africa were also banned into the country hence we have a 30 percent shortage of hatching eggs,” said Mr Shaw.
“Traditionally 20 or 30 percent of eggs are imported to top up local production. When the ban came on obviously it cut our customers’ orders a bit and we are down to 30 000 birds a week whereas normal production is about 40 000 birds a week.”
Mr Shaw said as a result capacity utilisation has gone down to 75 percent, which has resulted in some contract workers’ hours being reduced. The poultry producer employs about 400 permanent and contract employees.
Mr Shaw said the decline in production has seen revenue dropping by 30 percent.
“We are down to 70 percent of our normal income and it’s tough for us to meet our expenses. We hope things will normalise soon,” he said.
Challenges facing the Gweru based poultry producer also hit hard on the country’s largest producer Irvine’s after it was forced to cull 140 000 birds after 7 000 birds had been killed by the bird flu virus.