Zimbabwe’s chicken farms are under threat from potential avian influenza (AI) outbreak following reports of illegal imports of poultry meat and eggs from South Africa which is battling the disease in some of its provinces.
Last month Botswana banned the importation of live poultry and their fresh products from South Africa, saying the decision followed an AI outbreak in Gauteng.
In a report, the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) said that farmers had raised the red flag over the flood of poultry products into Zimbabwe. The report said:
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The Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) held a meeting on Tuesday 15th June 2021. Discussions included (Statutory Instrument) SI 127 compliance and a return to normalcy for business following engagements with the Reserve Bank through the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
Breeding companies cited high demand for hatching eggs and most of them were able to supply day-old chicks to the satisfaction of their customers in the first quarter.
A projected increase in demand for day-old chicks towards the end of the second quarter is expected as the winter season wears off.
Concerns were noted regarding poultry meat and eggs which are being illegally imported mainly from Zambia and South Africa especially as South Africa is a known Avian Influenza zone.
Zimbabwe was hit by two outbreaks of the bird flu in 2017 at Lanark Farm, which is owned by Irvine’s, the biggest chicken breeder in the country.
The farm was quarantined afterwards and over 240 000 birds were destroyed.
AI is a highly infectious and contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds, such as chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowls and others.
The disease can be transmitted to humans through exposure to infected birds or the handling of infected carcasses.