The Patriotic Front Government has allowed South Africa Supermarket Chains to import dead and possibly genetically modified chickens in the country.
There is no shortage of chickens in Zambia. But the decision by the PF that was elected on the campaign of empowering local communities will certainly destroy the local poultry industry.
Chicken breeders in Lusaka west and Mbala cannot compete with Shorprite and Wal-mart which will now bring in trucks of dead chickens from South Africa, Brazil and Venezuela.
The Zambia National Farmers Union is correct in being shocked by this unpatriotic and reckless move by the PF government.
“The ZNFU is saddened and extremely disappointed by the unilateral decision taken by some officials in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to issue import permit allowing Shoprite Checkers and Game Stores to import chickens from South Africa at a time when the Zambian poultry sector is showing strong signs of growth and recovery from many years of recession,” Jarvis Zimba the head of ZNFU complained.
Zimba said the move will destroy the local poultry industry and many Zambians will lose jobs.
He said there is no need to import dead birds when the local people have been meeting the national requirement and people getting jobs in the process.
He revealed that in the last two years, the poultry sector has grown from producing 18 million chicks to over 43 million chicks per annum.
“The poultry sector has for a long time been providing livelihood and employment to a number of Zambian families including retirees both in urban, peri-urban and rural areas.
“The ZNFU has no information indicating that there is a shortage of chickens on the Zambian market to warrant importation of the commodity,” he said.
ZNFU further described as inconceivable the decision to destroy livelihoods of many Zambians who depend on poultry production for their livelihood to just irresponsibly issue import permits to allow chickens from other countries to flood the Zambian markets.
Zimba said the import permit is clear case of economic sabotage and has asked for the permit to be reversed and responsible officers sacked immediately before more jobs are lost.
ZNFU is concerned that despite the permit being for South African chickens, the birds could in fact be from Brazil and are just routed via South Africa, and that the union cannot rule out the possibility of these chickens being genetically modified ,which would make their entry illegal.
Zimba deplored the fact that a few officials had chosen ‘to enrich multinational companies and farmers in other countries at the expense of our own people,” at a time the country is discussing diversification from copper mining.
Zimba said, “We therefore requests the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock to quickly bring sanity at the ministry as it has now become clear that the ministry is packed with civil servants who have no interest to see the Zambian agriculture sector develop.”