The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) is yet to comment on the decision of Botswana to ban poultry products from Mzansi after an outbreak of avian influenza was confirmed on a Gauteng farm this week.
The ban was confirmed in a statement to Reuters.
Botswana’s ministry of agricultural development and food security says, “As a result, the import of domesticated and wild birds, their products (meat, eggs, and feathers), from South Africa is banned with immediate effect.”
The import ban is expected to be a blow to Mzansi as most of the neighbouring country’s largest poultry producers have ties with local producers.
Earlier findings of three regional market studies presented to the African Competition Forum found that chicken farmers in Botswana could not compete with the huge South African firms at both breeder and processing levels.
It further revealed that Botswana was a high cost producer and its poultry meat price is higher than the other three countries that participated in the study.
Botswana’s shocking decision comes as a commercial farm on the East Rand of Johannesburg was quarantined after conclusive testing at Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute. A layer flock of 300 birds were culled after it tested positive for the H5 strain of avian influenza.
Farmers across South Africa have since been urged to remain vigilant for symptoms of avian influenza. Bird flu is a viral respiratory disease of birds believed to be transmitted by wild migratory birds. In Southern Africa, the H5N8 strain of the disease affects the poultry industry.
In a press statement, the Botswana ministry of agricultural development and food security also urges the public to remain vigilant and report deaths of domestic poultry and wild birds to its veterinary offices.
‘Heighten biosecurity measures’
Meanwhile Western Cape agriculture minister Dr Ivan Meyer has echoed the call of vigilance.
He thanked SAPA for its speedy reaction in placing the chicken industry on high alert. The poultry body has also rolled out appropriate biosecurity contingency plans.
Meyer said, “Farmers and poultry producers are encouraged to heighten their biosecurity measures to prevent potential virus introduction from wild birds or their faeces. It is crucial to keep poultry and other animals away from wild birds and their body fluids through screens, fencing or nets.”
“Commercial poultry operations and backyard poultry owners should avoid introducing the virus through contaminated clothes, footwear, vehicles or equipment used in waterfowl hunting.”
Reuters further reports that after an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian flu in 2017, many neighbouring countries, including Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana, banned poultry imports from South Africa. This outbreak saw poultry farmers culling millions of birds.