Namibia looks to neighbouring nations amid SA poultry import ban

September 29, 2023

Namibia is turning to Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to fill the gap left by suspended poultry imports from South Africa due to the alarming spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

"We are currently sourcing other suppliers in the neighbouring countries like Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The option of Europe is definitely there, but their product is almost double the price compared to the one from South Africa," Chairman of the Poultry Producer Association, René Werner told The Brief.

He noted that while there would likely be an impact on smaller farmers who rely on imports from South Africa for male chicks and point-of-lay chickens, Namibia has been dealing with periodic border closures since 2017.

"We always had a bit of closure of the South African border. In one way, it's actually good so that no illegal imports come from South Africa anymore, any dumping. So it helps the local production a bit," Werner said.

However, Werner acknowledged that certain essential items, such as parent stock, would still need to be imported, and South Africa remains the most economical choice.

Regarding the extent of poultry imports, Werner explained, "Poultry is not just poultry. Poultry, we've got the egg part and we've got the meat part."

While he couldn't provide specific figures for meat imports, he highlighted that egg imports had ceased over the last six or seven months, with eggs being proudly produced in Namibia, except for the parent stock.

In terms of biosecurity measures, Werner stressed the importance of maintaining strict protocols, particularly for commercial farmers. He noted that Namibia's desert environment offered some natural protection, as wild birds tend to fly along the coastline rather than directly over the country.

The Directorate of Veterinary Services under the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform announced the immediate suspension of live poultry and poultry product imports from South Africa in light of the HPAI outbreak.

The move has, however, raised concerns about the impact on Namibia's poultry industry, but industry experts are optimistic about finding alternative solutions.

The duration of the suspension remains uncertain, as international rules typically allow borders to reopen three months after the last outbreak. It will depend on how the veterinary services handle the situation.

Namibia, which consumes approximately 2,500 tons of chicken every month, will be closely monitoring the situation and seeking viable poultry sources in neighbouring countries while ensuring the safety of its poultry industry.

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Last modified on Friday, 29 September 2023 18:02

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