Botswana imposes poultry products importation ban

Banned: The outbreaks have resulted in trade restrictions that impact the poultry sectors and downstream value chain PIC: News bureau
Banned: The outbreaks have resulted in trade restrictions that impact the poultry sectors and downstream value chain PIC: News bureau

Following global outbreaks of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), the Botswana government has banned imports of poultry products from South Africa to allow a review of import conditions. The development might lead to shortages of some of the products locally as the influenza continues to devastate the poultry sector, destroy livelihoods and economies.

Avian influenza or bird flu refers to the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses. These viruses naturally spread among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. Bird flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with bird flu viruses have occurred. “The outbreaks have resulted in trade restrictions that impact the poultry sectors and downstream value chains. HPAI also threatens the extinction of sensitive wildlife species. South Africa is experiencing a particularly severe HPAI outbreak in which has overrun five of nine of the provinces, Western Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Gauteng,” the Minister of Agriculture Fidelis Molao told the media this week. Molao also disclosed that over 7.5 million chickens have been culled in order to control the outbreak, which is a serious loss and has led to shortages in poultry products such as eggs. “The last outbreak of HPAI in Botswana was in 2021. It was limited to back-yard poultry in the Kgatleng (Bokaa) and Okavango/Ngamiland in a youth poultry project in Etsha. Some cases were detected in wild birds but these two were self-limiting,” he said. Molao also said the SADC protocol on Avian influenza is localised culling of flocks in case of outbreaks of HPAI. However, he indicated that this is subject to review in consideration of emerging epidemiological information. “The existing National HPAI response plan is being reviewed and it will include inter alia governance structures, stakeholders engagement, compensation arrangements, plan of implementation, SOPS and legal basis,” he said. The virus was found in populations of a scavenging bird called brown skua on Bird Island, which is part of the British overseas territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. These migratory birds probably brought it with them from South America where bird flu is widespread and has already killed an estimated 500,000 seabirds and 20,000 sea lions in Chile and Peru alone. The current outbreak of the highly infectious variant of H5N1, which started in 2021, is estimated to have killed millions of wild birds.

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Editor's Comment
Government’s efforts commendable!

Since the news broke, the government made sure to work hand in hand with the South African government to assist the families of the victims. The two countries came together to help the families identify the bodies of their loved ones through DNA testing. The government also announced that they would assist families with food for mourners before the funerals.Even though the deceased persons were mostly residents of Molepolole, the government...

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