The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security has extended the import ban on live Poultry and their byproducts from South Africa following another bird flu outbreak in the country.
The subsequent import ban takes place two months after the Ministry had in April said the import of domesticated and wild birds, their products (meat, eggs and feathers) from South Africa are banned with immediate effect.
This week following official reports from South Africa, there has been confirmed cases of an outbreak of the highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in commercial farms, compartments in several provinces. The outbreak adds to the initial outbreak reported in the Gauteng Province and the Ministry has issued the ban as a mitigation measure to the risk of possible spread of the disease in Botswana.
Government has further cancelled all import permits issued for importation of live poultry and their byproducts with immediate effect. Poultry and their byproducts from other countries travelling through South Africa from other countries are allowed with a permit.
This year Botswana has on three times banned poultry imports from South Africa, as twice in April and latest being this week. However during the month of April the import ban was revised to allow for imports from registered and approved Avian Influenza free compartment as long as accompanied with a permit. Furthermore cooked poultry meat without a permit was allowed and importation of fresh poultry products, originating from other countries and passing through South Africa in sealed containers were allowed with a permit.
Botswana`s poultry industry comprises of two production systems, namely the commercial sector which relies on exotic breeds of chicken, improved housing and nutrition. Then there is another termed “the village system” which uses indigenous Tswana chickens with low input and output system.
The Food and Agriculture Organization has confirmed the bird flu presence in SADC in countries such as Lesotho, South Africa as well as Zimbabwe with its subtypes H5N1, H5N8 and H5N6 affecting birds.
Last month South African Government had advised farmers in the country to cull infected birds and an approximated total of 134 000 birds had died. 14,000 broiler breeders had been culled with samples taken for laboratory analysis.
Though the bird flu poses a low risk to human health, veterinary authorities have advised that biosecurity measures be enforced. Humans can transmit the virus from sick birds to other birds on their shoes, hands or clothes.