There was no need for panic buying at this stage, as the South African egg stock levels were replenishing steadily, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (Dalrrd) said yesterday.
In a public statement, the department said it has a few open import permits for eggs and poultry products from a few countries.
“Import of table eggs, fertilised eggs, pasteurised eggs, egg powder and liquid eggs has been on-going for many years in South Africa and has not only started with the current outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Other countries including Brazil, USA and Argentina have been exporting eggs to South Africa for quite some time and the department is currently processing import permit applications from a few more countries."
The department said it did not dictate which countries should make business sense for South African retailers to import eggs from, but it only ensured that biosecurity risk assessments were conducted when importers applied for import permits.
At the same time, Dalrrd Minister Thoko Didiza said the department was happy that the HPAI outbreak was under control and that 70% of farms that were not infected continued to produce eggs and chickens.
“Since the egg production cycle is not too long, we expect the situation to normalise early next year. We will continue to import more eggs should the situation not improve,” Didiza said.
To prepare for the festive season as the country approached December, the following have been imported:
– Fertilised eggs - 9 million,
– Day-old chicks - 37 802 tons
– Egg products - 62 metric tons,
– Poultry meat - 30 986 metric tons
Didiza said they had increased fertilised eggs from 1.9 million to 9 million in less than one month.
“These eggs will be chickens in less than 4 months,” she said.
Meanwhile, last week, veterinary pharmacy Deltamune issued an important update on Avian Influenza (AI) Vaccine Development-Phase 3.
In it, it informed industry partners, that in terms of the development of the AI H7 vaccine and the testing of the vaccine in chickens, they were very happy to report that their current progress was right on track, and everything had been running smoothly according to their planned schedule.
It said this tight timeline indicated that all necessary work for the vaccine dossier should be wrapped up by mid-December.
“At that point, the dossier will be handed to the Registrar of Act 36 for assessment, and hopefully registration of the vaccine.”
The company said that its collaboration with Dalrrd remained ongoing, with continuous discussions on how they could best assist in ensuring the timely delivery of all requirements.
“Whilst we wait for the test results of our experimental vaccines, we are continuing to produce Avian Influenza H7 antigen under Biosecurity Level 3 conditions in anticipation of registration, reinforcing our commitment to initiating commercial vaccine production as efficiently as possible within the regulatory guidelines.”
Deltamune said it appreciated its members' continuous support as they continued to attempt to combat the H7 Avian Influenza. “Together, with your support, we're working towards a solution that can truly make a meaningful impact.”