Banning of South African poultry imports by Botswana and Mozambique due to concerns around an isolated outbreak of Asian highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the country is bad news for South Africa and premature, says the South African Poultry Association. Photo Ayanda Ndamane African news agency/ANA
Banning of South African poultry imports by Botswana and Mozambique due to concerns around an isolated outbreak of Asian highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the country is bad news for South Africa and premature, says the South African Poultry Association. Photo Ayanda Ndamane African news agency/ANA

Banning of SA poultry premature, says Sapa

By Given Majola Time of article published Apr 19, 2021

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DURBAN - BANNING of South African poultry imports by Botswana and Mozambique due to concerns around an isolated outbreak of Asian highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the country is bad news for South Africa and premature, says the South African Poultry Association.

Colin Steenhuisen , the interim general manager of the Egg Organisation of Sapa, said on Friday that the association had also “unofficially learnt” that Mozambique had also closed its borders to South African poultry products.

“What is sad is that the HPAI outbreak is only on one farm, which has been isolated and is in strict quarantine. No new cases have been reported since this isolated one farm. Perhaps the closure of borders is premature,” said Steenhuisen.

The local poultry industry was placed on high alert with the appropriate biosecurity contingency plans being implemented last week, following the confirmation of H5 avian influenza in a commercial layer flock on the East Rand, east of Johannesburg.

Steenhuisen said the local poultry industry would be negatively impacted by any lost sale of products, locally or internationally.

“The director of animal health, Dr Mpho Maja, is in discussions with Botswana and Mozambique to negotiate the reopening of their borders to allow South African trade of poultry products to recommence.”

HPAI is an internationally notifiable disease to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). Any country receiving news of an HPAI outbreak from the OIE is entitled to close its borders to protect its own industry.

According to SAPA, the HPAI H5 was controlled and isolated on one farm on the East Rand. The birds were culled and disposed of in line with HPAI protocols. No new outbreaks had been reported.

Steenhuisen said it was a good sign that the isolation and quarantining measures were working.

“The poultry industry is on high alert nationally, the national animal health department and all its countrywide state veterinarians are on high alert,” he said.

“We hope and pray we have this isolated, to avoid a repeat of the 2017 outbreak. The egg products from the layer farm concerned have been withdrawn from distribution. Eggs and broiler meat are safe to eat, provided properly cooked and accepted food preparation protocols are practised,” added Steenhuisen.

According to a report by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) to Sapa in February 2018, the outbreak of HPAI in South Africa had a notable effect on the poultry industry, which was one of South Africa’s largest agricultural sub sectors.

This retrospective analysis considered biological loss, income foregone and direct costs associated with the outbreak. Total cull numbers from the reported avian outbreaks in the broiler and layer industries were estimated at around 5.4 million birds.

The effect on the layer industry had, however, been much larger than in the broiler industry, with around 4.7 million birds culled in the laying sector as opposed to around 700 000 birds in the broiler sector, which was predominantly affected at breeder level.

The total biological loss associated with the numbers amounted to just more than R317 million. Of that, approximately 75 percent accrued to the commercial laying industry and its various stages of production. Direct costs associated with the outbreak was around R40.5 million, which could be even larger given the poor response rate on issues related to direct costs associated with the outbreak.

In terms of income foregone, BFAP said the total value was estimated at just more than R1.5 billion, which included income lost from egg sales, pullet sales, day-old chick sales and broiler meat sales. Of the total loss, 85 percent accrued to the laying industry.

“It should be noted that the income foregone is not an instantaneous loss and the impact would be spread over a period of more than two years. It also did not account for company-specific management strategies to mitigate the impact, such as utilisation of excess capacity to reduce the impact on day old chick volumes.

“This was specifically the case in the broiler industry. Given what is presented in the report, the total loss could amount to around R1.87 billion if biological losses, direct costs and possible income foregone is considered. This represents 18 percent of the total gross value of egg production in 2016 and 1.6 percent of the total gross value of animal products in 2016,” the analysis noted.

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