By: Nangura Nguvauva
The agriculture ministry has suspended the import of live poultry, birds and poultry products from the USA for a period of 21 days after a detected highly pathogenic avian influenza. (HPA)
The directive letter seen by The Villager stated that all previously imports and in-transit permits are now cancelled and recalled with immediate effect. It further noted that cooked poultry meat products for commercial purposes may be imported into Namibia under a veterinary license.
The ministry spokesperson, Jona Musheko, said that the bird flu is similar to what the country experienced in the coastal area a month ago.
He added that the country does not want to import diseases through poultry products that might affect the local industry.
According to the agriculture ministry, the country consumes an average of 3000 tons of poultry per month, but the country only produces 1700 tons.
“This doesn’t mean the industry will collapse or there will be a shortage of chicken products. There will still be imports from other countries that do not have the virus,” said Musheko.
He added that this should motivate local producers to boost production so the country will not rely on imports. He further added that the ministry runs a programme that encourages citizens to engage more in poultry production across all 14 regions.
Speaking to The Villager’s Home Run show on Wednesday, agricultural forum technical adviser Maria Immanuel said avian influenza is a health issue.
She said, however, viewing it from a trade perspective, whether there will be an impact or not will be determined by how much the country imports.
She said the 21-days ban would affect not only Namibia but also the supplier.
Speaking on the matter, economist Klause Schade pointed out that the ban will not significantly impact the nation. He added that Namibia doesn’t import substantial quantities of poultry products from the US.
“However, there could be an indirect impact because South Africa is an importer of poultry products from the US. If there is less poultry in the South African markets, producers will first serve their own market before the export delivery market, including Namibia,” said Schade.
He also urged local producers to take this as an opportunity to expand production, ensure that Namibia is not affected by avian flu, and provide a reliable supply source to Namibian retailers. He further said the country needs to focus on the competitiveness of imports for the poultry industry, identify inputs that can be produced locally, and cut low on transportation costs.