SD FACES POUL­TRY CRI­SIS - DIR.VET

Observer on Saturday - - Front Page - By Sicelo Maziya

The coun­try is fac­ing a loom­ing poul­try cri­sis and will soon feel the full ef­fect of the ban on im­ports of poul­try prod­ucts from South Africa if the out­break of avian flu (bird flu) is not quickly averted.

This week, South African me­dia re­vealed that the Mpumalanga and Gaut­eng Provinces, which are not far from Swazi­land, have re­ported sim­i­lar cases of bird flu.

Di­rec­tor of Ve­teri­nary Ser­vices Dr Xolani Dlamini, whilst ap­pre­ci­at­ing pro­duc­ers for not pan­ick­ing and rush­ing to in­crease prices fol­low­ing the ban, fears that soon the coun­try may find it­self faced with a cri­sis.

It is feared that as soon as the ex­ist­ing stock al­ready out in the mar­ket is de­pleted, poul­try prod­ucts will be scarce and that may re­sult in prices be­ing re­viewed up­wards.

Dr. Dlamini when con­tacted about the pend­ing calamity the coun­try faces said: “We must thank the pro­duc­ers for not quickly re­act­ing to the mar­ket un­cer­tainty caused by the ban on poul­try prod­ucts. The chal­lenges or the ef­fects will def­i­nitely be felt by the con­sumer in the next few weeks when we start to run out of chicken be­cause noth­ing will be im­ported in the pe­riod be­tween the time the ban was is­sued and lag time, which is six weeks.”

Na­tional Chicks Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor Dave Chum­ming said they were al­ready feel­ing the brunt of the ban.

He said be­fore the ban, they were hatch­ing about 80 000 chicks a day and now had scaled down to 10 000.

Dave dis­closed that they are work­ing with the min­istry of agri­cul­ture to en­sure that the coun­try averts the pos­si­bil­ity of shelves be­ing de­pleted with no chicken meat.

Closely

“We are work­ing closely with the min­istry in sourc­ing proper doc­u­men­ta­tion and also lias­ing with the South African Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture to try get the prod­uct at the safe zones”.

“How­ever, I must also dis­close that if we fail to get the proper doc­u­men­ta­tion within this week, it will re­sult in the in­dus­try fail­ing to de­liver to the mar­ket chicken meat. For us as Na­tional Chicks, on cal­cu­la­tion we will be forced to at least get about half a mil­lion chicks, which on its own is not go­ing to be a pos­si­bil­ity as that will re­quire spe­cially made trucks to trans­port them into the coun­try,” he stated.

Dave dis­closed that they are tire­lessly work­ing on the is­sue with co­op­er­a­tion of the min­istry and are hop­ing to get the proper doc­u­men­ta­tion to avert the chal­lenges placed by the ban on live chick­ens and thus curb the spread of avian in­fluenza.

The Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment in the Repub­lic of South Africa banned the sale of live chick­ens un­til the H5N8 strain has been elim­i­nated.

The coun­try was forced to do like­wise and ban or stop any im­ports of chicken and or any prod­ucts to help con­tain the deadly chicken dis­ease.

An ex­pert within the min­istry of agri­cul­ture con­fided to this news­pa­per that the coun­try is small in size, hence the rea­son it had to ef­fect strict mea­sures to pro­tect the in­dus­try.

“The H5N8 strain if it can be dic­tated it can mean catas­tro­phe for the coun­try be­cause the only avail­able op­tion is to kill and de­stroy all the in­fected chick­ens and mon­i­tor the area for some time”.

The ex­pert said the coun­try is in safe hands as once such was dic­tated in the neigh­bor­ing coun­try, the min­istry in­creased its mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion and of course as a first mea­sure it stopped all im­ports of live chick­ens into Swazi­land.

The ex­pert re­vealed that ex­ten­sive work is be­ing done in mon­i­tor­ing and pro­tect­ing the poul­try in­dus­try.

“We’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing each and ev­ery case re­ported to us, where famers are re­port­ing high num­ber of cases of bird mor­tal­ity, we take the case very se­ri­ously. How­ever, we are still get­ting nor­mal re­ports as our tests are still neg­a­tive on the H5N8 strain cases.”

A quick visit to the city’s big re­tail shops have shown that so far there is no in move­ment in the price of chicken por­tions or by-prod­ucts.

“The only jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for these could be that the su­per­mar­kets are clear­ing the avail­able stock and there is no way we can run away from the price hike be­cause the de­mand will be higher than the sup­ply as pro­duc­tion will be very low with lack of eggs and avail­able chicks to pro­duce the end prod­uct,” said one econ­o­mist.

De­pend­ing on the out­let one vis­its, 2kg por­tions cost be­tween E49.95 to E53.00. One in­de­pen­dent farmer brought to the fore the harsh re­al­ity of the ban when he dis­closed that they are dis­patch­ing the last batch of chicken and are also clue­less on where to get the chicks due to the short­ages.

Is­sued

Sibu­siso Mn­gadi, for­mer Cen­tral Bank of Swazi­land com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, is­sued a stern warn­ing on his Face­book post: “This is not a scam but, be­lieve you me, chicken meat will run out in this coun­try in the next month or two. Most farm­ers are out of busi­ness be­cause the coun­try can­not im­port fer­tile broiler eggs from SA as a re­sult of the bird flu out­break there.

Do all you can to stock up whilst you can. Chicken meat re­mains the most af­ford­able pro­tein in the mar­ket”. The South African Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment im­ple­mented nu­mer­ous con­di­tions for the sale and trade of live chick­ens to curb the spread of avian in­fluenza. Their depart­ment’s vets re­sponded swiftly to the threat.

Sellers of live chick­ens, in­clud­ing the com­mer­cial as well as the traders who buy and sell those chick­ens must reg­is­ter with the Poul­try Dis­ease Man­age­ment Agency.

Only reg­is­tered sellers and buy­ers are al­lowed to trade and it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of both the seller and buyer to en­sure their coun­ter­part is reg­is­tered.

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