Farayi Machamire 7 June 2017
HARARE – A deadly virus has hit the country’s largest poultry producer,
Irvine’s – forcing the company to slaughter more than 140 000 chickens as
it fights to contain the avian flu which it says will cause market
The avian flu outbreak has already seen Zimbabwe’s neighbours, Mozambique
and Botswana, cancelling all chicken imports from the country – as they
step up efforts to avoid contagion effects of the lethal virus.
With chicken having overtaken beef as the main protein source among
long-suffering Zimbabweans because of its competitive pricing, panicking
authorities announced yesterday that they would escalate their
surveillance of the key poultry industry – warning that if the avian flu
spreads to small-scale chicken producers, it would become increasingly
difficult to control the situation.
The government also admitted yesterday that backyard poultry producers
posed a significant threat to the containment of the virus.
“The small producers who are engaged in backyard production cannot be
covered fully,” principal director in the Department of Livestock and
Veterinary Services, Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu, told the Daily News.
“But there is no reason to panic because the virus has so far not shown
any risk to humans.
“Still, we are advising the public to buy their supplies from licenced
outlets where the health of birds is monitored.
“All these systems are there for the protection of the public . . . who
should go to licenced outlets so that they are covered,”
She said the government had also stepped up its monitoring of smuggled
chickens, adding that a ban on chicken imports had also been effected.
“We don’t currently allow the importation of chickens. If there is any,
then that would be the result of smuggling, which is illegal.
“At the same time, we are not ourselves exporting either. Our only slight
worry is that we may have scared our neighbours by issuing the virus
alert,” Ushewekunze-Obatolu told the Daily News.
Meanwhile, the country’s biggest poultry producer has also advised the
market about the deadly outbreak of the avian flu – saying, however, that
it had contained the flu.