NAMIBIA – The Poultry Producers’ Association (PPA) has issued an alarm over continued chicken imports from South Africa amid a severe avian flu outbreak in the neighboring country.
The PPA has expressed deep concern that this unchecked importation poses a grave risk to Namibia’s poultry sector.
“We are deeply concerned that the avian flu could be introduced into Namibia, with potentially catastrophic consequences for our poultry industry,” Rene Werner, the Chairperson of the PPA said.
He added that they are currently in discussions with the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) to address the issue.
In the event of an outbreak, producers would be compelled to cull all livestock on affected farms and suspend operations for three to four months.
For larger operations, this could mean the disposal of as many as three million chickens, causing substantial financial losses and disruption to the industry.
Werner argued that while closing the border to chicken imports might present short-term challenges for farmers, it would be a more manageable solution compared to the dire consequences of an avian flu outbreak.
The South African Poultry Association (Sapa) has confirmed the avian flu outbreak in South Africa, attributing it to a new strain known as H7N6.
Abongile Balarane, the General Manager of Sapa, described the severity of the situation, stating that the strain has had catastrophic effects in Gauteng and Mpumalanga, resulting in the loss of a significant portion of the national chicken production, exceeding 15% to 20%.
However, Balarane remained hopeful that South Africa can recover from this crisis, with restocking planned for when the avian flu subsides, typically around October, closer to warmer weather.
Addressing concerns, Jona Musheko, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform, assured that Namibia is currently importing poultry from avian influenza-free compartments in South Africa under the supervision of the Veterinary Authority of South Africa.
He emphasized that South Africa would not certify export poultry or poultry products from non-compliant establishments.
Nevertheless, acknowledging the industry’s apprehensions, Musheko stated that the DVS is actively investigating the matter to take further precautionary measures if needed.
Elijah Mukubonda, spokesperson for the Ministry of Industrialization and Trade, clarified that South Africa has the ability to halt chicken exports from avian influenza-infested areas.
However, the responsibility to ban imports from South Africa for health or safety reasons falls on the importing countries like Namibia.
As the debate over poultry imports from South Africa intensifies, Namibia’s poultry industry and authorities remain vigilant, striving to strike a balance between trade interests and safeguarding the nation’s poultry sector from the ongoing avian flu threat.