Monday, June 1, 2020

GOVERNMENT AND QUAIL EGG FARMERS CLASH

Government was this week on collision course with quail egg farmer following a public statement warning against the marketing and sale of the eggs as medicine.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) last week issued a statement cautioning against some vendors who are marketing quail eggs as medicine.

A press statement issued by government dismissed claims that Quail eggs have medicinal properties and said should not be sold as such. Government highlighted that ailments such as blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, allergies, cardiac conditions, HIV and AIDS and any other chronic conditions that have no beneficial effect against and such advertisements of  raw Quail eggs  warning they are in contravention  of the Food Control Act.

When consuming Quail eggs, members of the public were advised to cook them like any other animal product as raw eggs pose a health risk such as Salmonella infection, and the absorption of some nutrients (especially essential amino acids) may be reduced or even blocked completely. Infants and young children, pregnant women, the elderly and immune-compromised individuals are said to be amongst those likely to be severely affected.

Members of the public were advised to refrain from consuming raw quail eggs and to alert the Local Authorities or MOHW if anyone is found selling quail eggs with medicinal claims.

However The Sunday Standard investigations have learnt that most poultry farmers in Botswana only learnt about the statement from some of their customers who out of concern enquired about the legitimacy of the use Quail eggs they had bought.

The press statement from the Ministry has caused confusion in some farming businesses.

Some of Poultry farmers claim to have lost customers and are left with uncollected large orders of Quail eggs, when customers unexpectedly cancelled upon reading the press statement.

Other people have seen their business images being tarnished as a result of the statement with some Batswana questioning the legitimacy of the use of Quail eggs while others demanded a refund for returning the eggs.

Poultry Farmer Moso Monowe, is one of them. He started his business with researched information from relevant health authorities on Quail birds and their eggs before deciding to supply and sell them to Batswana around Gaborone.

In an interview with Sunday Standard he said: “It feels like Government has just rubbished our commodity business as there is evidence from reputable organisations which can prove the health benefits of Quail eggs to people.”

While he has not been approached by individuals to supply them with Quail eggs for selling under medicinal reasons, he does receive customers who come to purchase Quail eggs and chicks for their own reasons. Monowe disagrees with the government stance on Quail eggs. He claims he has seen and experienced the positive effects of Quail eggs on the human body. He said: “I have also been helped by them as well, especially with my allergies to dust and even some of my customers can provide testimonies.”

Monowe feels government was too quick to act as the statement is contradictory because television programs such as Tsabotsogo, a health themed program, and Tsa Temo Thuo, an agriculture themed program; have praised the health benefits of Quail eggs on the human body and also as an opportunity for business.

Monowe believes: “The Ministry of Health must do proper research as we need agriculture to earn a living and government must engage stakeholders before taking decisions such as these.”

“In countries such as South Africa, Zambia and Namibia is there is good market for Quail birds and it is a highly practiced business activity. Some illnesses are not easily cured with western medicines and this is where traditional medicinal methods can come in to help,” Monowe said.

Efforts to get clarity on whether MOHW had done appropriate research remained futile at time of print, while the Consumer Affairs Department highlighted that they had yet to receive any complaints.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.