Namibia suspends poultry imports from SA amidst bird flu outbreaks

Namibia has taken the precautionary step of suspending poultry imports from neighbouring South Africa following the outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Namibia suspends poultry imports from SA amidst bird flu outbreaks
Due to the bird flu outbreak in South Africa, Namibia has suspended poultry imports from the country.
Photo: FW Archive
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South Africa, due to its proximity, has long been Namibia’s preferred supplier of poultry products. However, a statement from the Directorate of Veterinary Services under the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has suspended the imports of live poultry, fresh frozen poultry, table eggs, day-old chicks and hatching chicks.

The H7N6 strain, first detected in Mpumalanga in June, has spread to Gauteng, North West, and Limpopo. Astral Foods, the largest poultry producer in South Africa, described this outbreak as the most severe the country has ever experienced, resulting in an estimated loss of R220 million.

The ripple effect of avian influenza has also been evident in other major players, including RCL Foods and Quantum Foods.

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RCL Foods spent R115 million culling an estimated 420 000 birds. Quantum Foods also reported multiple farms within their operations have been affected by HPAI.

Dawie Maree, head of Agriculture and Information and Marketing at FNB, pointed out additional concerns.

With less local production and increased reliance on imports, the poultry industry faced higher costs due to a weakened rand, leading to more expensive imports. This, in turn, triggered a knock-on effect throughout the industry.

Furthermore, the scarcity of local chicken and eggs, coupled with higher demand, was expected to result in food inflation, ultimately leading to potential price increases,” said Maree.

In light of these challenges, Maree advised poultry farmers to have very strict biosecurity measures in place. Businesses also needed to provide safety nets for themselves through emergency savings and diversification.

South Africa’s bird flu crisis was further worsened by the persistent failure of Eskom to supply power to businesses and the nation as a whole.