by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – STAKEHOLDERS are divided over South Africa’s prospects of containing the Avian Influenza (AI) as the outbreak spreads in the commercial hub of Gauteng.
The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) and Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) have assured that every measure is being taken to contain the recent outbreak.
This has occurred in various locations across the country, as fears mount that a widespread epidemic could plunge the poultry industry into turmoil.
The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMEI) has adopted a wait-and-see stance.
“We are watching the outbreak closely, and have preferred not to comment in the media as the situation remains fluid and we do not know how far the outbreak will spread,” said Denise Rapitsi, AMEI Chief Strategy Officer.
“As it stands, the poultry industry sees another blow after the outbreak of avian flu on a second farm in Gauteng,” the official said.
Rapitsi nonetheless is encouraged by the local industry and government’s swift response in placing farms under quarantine and identifying the pathogen.
“It has also been noteworthy how swiftly our SADC trading partners reacted to the news and halted imports of South African chicken.”
SADC is the Southern African Development Community, the continent’s largest regional bloc.
AMEI is hopeful, therefore, that the impact on the industry would be contained, and that the knock-on effect of a shortage of chicken, and the resultant rise in poultry prices for the consumer, would not occur.
AMEI believes South Africa must urgently improve its trade relations with its largest poultry trading partners including Brazil, United States and the European Union.
“Our members lose access to import markets whenever there is an outbreak of AI in another country, and these markets can take up to two years to reopen. This does not have to be the case if South Africa follow the OIE guidelines,” Rapotsi said.
OIE is the World Organisation for Animal Health.
– CAJ News