The poultry industry is on high alert, following reports of an outbreak of Avian Influenza (AI) in North West Province, South Africa. 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.
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. 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 1000 tonne of poultry products were imported into Zimbabwe from SA during 2017.
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 polonies, traced to a meat processing plant in SA. Source


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