Poul­try in­dus­try on high alert

The poul­try in­dus­try is on high alert, fol­low­ing re­ports of an out­break of Avian In­fluenza (AI) in North West Prov­ince, South Africa.

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Livestock/Crossword & Cartoons -

THE Depart­ment of Vet­eri­nary Ser­vices and the Zim­babwe Poul­try As­so­ci­a­tion (ZPA) are calling on all poul­try farm­ers to be vigilant and to prac­tice strin­gent biose­cu­rity in the wake of the re-emer­gence of this highly con­ta­gious poul­try dis­ease in South Africa.

Poul­try pro­duc­tion in Zim­babwe is still re­cov­er­ing from the ef­fects of a sin­gle out­break of AI a year ago which oc­curred on the largest poul­try breeder op­er­a­tion in the coun­try. This dis­rupted pro­duc­tion across the in­dus­try and re­sulted in a short­age of eggs. Zim­babwe was de­clared AI-free by the World Or­gan­i­sa­tion for An­i­mal Health on 31st Jan­uary this year, but the ban on the im­por­ta­tion of all poul­try prod­ucts and live birds from South Africa re­mains in force as a con­trol mea­sure to pro­tect the lo­cal poul­try in­dus­try.

It is il­le­gal to im­port chicken prod­ucts into Zim­babwe from South Africa; whether in large re­frig­er­ated con­sign­ments or com­ing through the border with packs of frozen chicken in the fam­ily gro­cery shop­ping. This also ap­plies to bring­ing in live birds from South Africa, be­cause of the risk of AI, which can spread rapidly and dec­i­mate whole flocks.

Re­act­ing swiftly to re­ports of AI in North Western Prov­ince from the South African vet­eri­nary author­ity, Zim­babwe’s Depart­ment of Vet­eri­nary Ser­vices has stepped up AI sur­veil­lance in Beit­bridge. DVS is also car­ry­ing out a campaign to alert farm­ers in the re­gion about the risks of AI and the im­por­tance of biose­cu­rity, to pro­tect farmer liveli­hoods and the poul­try in­dus­try.

“Biose­cu­rity is crit­i­cal“, em­pha­sises Solomon Zawe, Chair­man of ZPA. “Ev­ery poul­try farmer, large or small, needs to prac­tice biose­cu­rity to pro­tect their birds - by be­ing vigilant, not in­tro­duc­ing dis­ease into flocks and prac­tic­ing good hy­giene.” ZPA rep­re­sents all poul­try pro­duc­ers - emer­gent, small-scale and large-scale; as well as the breeder in­dus­try which pro­duces day old chicks for poul­try rear­ing.

The spread of AI to the South­ern Africa re­gion in 2017, with con­tin­u­ing out­breaks in South Africa and one out­break in Zim­babwe has high­lighted the im­por­tance of biose­cu­rity in live­stock farm­ing. Swift re­ac­tion by the af­fected op­er­a­tor and DVS en­sured that the out­break that oc­curred in Zim­babwe, on La­nark Farm, Harare South in May 2017 was con­tained. Mas­sive de­pop­u­la­tion and strin­gent biose­cu­rity en­sured that AI did not spread to other poul­try op­er­a­tions in Zim­babwe.

Poul­try is Zim­babwe’s largest meat pro­duc­ing in­dus­try, and also sup­plies the mar­ket with eggs, one of the cheap­est forms of nu­tri­tious pro­tein. The poul­try in­dus­try led the post-hy­per­in­fla­tion re­cov­ery of the live­stock in­dus­try which saw Zim­babwe achieve self -suf­fi­ciency in meat and eggs again, whilst many other food com­modi­ties have con­tin­ued to be im­ported.

Na­tional poul­try pro­duc­tion dropped sig­nif­i­cantly in 2017, with pro­duc­tion de­clin­ing in both the layer and broiler in­dus­tries. In 2017 there was a 31 per­cent reduction in ta­ble eggs on the mar­ket and an over­all 10 per­cent de­cline in broiler meat pro­duc­tion, com­pared with 2016 pro­duc­tion. Re­duced pro­duc­tion re­sult­ing from AI, drove up re­tail prices of poul­try prod­ucts in 2017.

The im­pact of AI was most ap­par­ent in the small-scale sec­tor, with broiler small-scale pro­duc­tion de­clin­ing by more than 50 per­cent im­me­di­ately af­ter the AI out­break; and egg pro­duc­tion by 22 per­cent over the year com­pared with 2016.

Na­tional poul­try pro­duc­tion is re­cov­er­ing un­der the poul­try in­dus­try re­build­ing strat­egy put in place by ZPA. Re­cov­ery of day old chick pro­duc­tion from 4,2 mil­lion im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing AI, to an all-time peak of 7,1 mil­lion in De­cem­ber, is trans­lat­ing into re­cov­ery in the small-scale sec­tor.

Some two-thirds of Zim­babwe’s pro­duc­tion of both broiler meat and eggs, comes from the small-scale sec­tor. Small­hold­ers took na­tional pro­duc­tion of both chicken and eggs to new heights in 2014, as Zim­babwe be­came the fastest grow­ing poul­try in­dus­try in the re­gion. The thou­sands of pre­dom­i­nantly peri-ur­ban poul­try farm­ers con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to food se­cu­rity and fam­ily liveli­hoods in Zim­babwe. Col­lec­tively, small-scale poul­try pro­duc­ers gen­er­ate mil­lions of dol­lars in eco­nomic growth along the poul­try value chain.

How­ever, poul­try trade sta­tis­tics in­di­cate a dis­turb­ing trend. De­spite the ban on im­ports of poul­try prod­ucts from South Africa, im­posed af­ter the out­break of AI there, sta­tis­tics show that some 1 000 tonne of poul­try prod­ucts were im­ported into Zim­babwe from SA dur­ing 2017.

The pro­hi­bi­tion on im­ports of poul­try prod­ucts from South Africa would in­di­cate that this prod­uct en­tered the coun­try il­le­gally, with­out the re­quired per­mits be­ing is­sued. As well as the AI risk this poses to an­i­mal health, smug­gled meat prod­ucts can also be a risk to hu­man health.

There is a dan­ger that un­doc­u­mented prod­ucts from un­reg­is­tered sources with no cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, are dumped, con­demned, oth­er­wise con­tam­i­nated, or shelf ex­pired, all of which poses a health risk. In per­ish­able prod­ucts such as meat, there is also a risk of con­tam­i­na­tion in tran­sit if the prod­uct is not kept ad­e­quately re­frig­er­ated all the time. Once bac­te­rial in­fec­tion oc­curs in a thaw­ing prod­uct, bac­te­ria can con­tinue to mul­ti­ply un­der re­frig­er­a­tion.

Both the emer­gence of Avian In­fluenza in the South­ern Africa re­gion, and lis­te­rio­sis deaths in SA over the last 15 months, high­light the health and eco­nomic risks from the un­con­trolled im­por­ta­tion of live­stock prod­ucts. Zim­babwe has also banned the im­por­ta­tion of pro­cessed meat prod­ucts from South Africa. This fol­lowed re­ports from SA au­thor­i­ties of lis­te­rio­sis con­tam­i­na­tion in polony, traced to a meat pro­cess­ing plant in SA.

The Agri­cul­tural Health Author­ity has placed a na­tional poul­try alert fol­low­ing a ma­jor out­break of highly path­o­genic Avian In­fluenza across the border

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