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Mozambique Reopens Doors to South African Poultry Imports Following Bird Flu Control

Mozambique is celebrating a significant milestone as it lifts the ban on South African poultry imports, marking a crucial step in the region’s recovery from the avian influenza outbreak. This decision comes after a six-month period with no new cases of bird flu reported in either Mozambique or South Africa, signaling a return to stability for the poultry industries in both countries.

The Background: Avian Influenza and Its Impact

Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, posed a serious threat to the poultry sectors of Mozambique and South Africa, leading to stringent import restrictions. The import of specific South African poultry products, including producer chicks, day-old chicks and ducks, hatching eggs, and frozen chicken meat, was tightly controlled and permitted only through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER).

During the height of the outbreak, South Africa experienced a severe shortage of poultry and eggs. Between late May and September 2023, the country lost up to 20% of its national chicken population, with four million chickens culled to contain the epidemic. This led to significant disruptions, with retailers facing empty shelves and consumers struggling to find poultry products.

The Lifting of the Ban: A Welcome Relief

The lifting of the import ban allows Mozambican households and businesses to once again import poultry products from South Africa. This development is expected to stabilize supply and prices, providing much-needed relief to consumers. For South African poultry producers, the resumption of exports to Mozambique opens up a key regional market, helping to boost economic recovery.

However, the return to normalcy comes with stringent regulations to maintain biosecurity and prevent a resurgence of avian influenza. The National Directorate of Livestock Development, under MADER, has mandated that imported poultry products must come from birds housed in compartments certified as avian influenza-free. These compartments must be approved by South African veterinary authorities in accordance with the World Food Organization (WFO) code for animal health.

Ensuring Biosecurity: The Path Forward

To prevent the reintroduction of avian influenza, Mozambique has implemented rigorous biosecurity protocols. For poultry imports from countries other than South Africa, additional procedures apply. The transit of poultry meat, feathers, eggs (both fertile and consumer), and other poultry byproducts intended for animal feed or agricultural and industrial use requires specific authorization from the Mozambican veterinary authority in the form of an import license.

These measures underscore Mozambique’s commitment to protecting public health and the integrity of its poultry industry. By enforcing strict biosecurity protocols, Mozambique aims to prevent future outbreaks and ensure a stable supply of poultry products for its population.

Regional Implications: Economic and Social Benefits

The lifting of the poultry import ban is a positive development for the economies of both Mozambique and South Africa. Mozambican consumers now have access to a broader range of poultry products, which could help stabilize prices and improve food security. For South Africa, the reopening of a key export market is a critical step in recovering from the severe losses inflicted by the avian influenza outbreak.

Moreover, the decision highlights the importance of regional cooperation in managing animal health crises. By working together and adhering to international standards, Mozambique and South Africa are better equipped to respond to future outbreaks and minimize their impact on public health and the economy.

Mozambique’s decision to lift the ban on South African poultry imports marks a significant milestone in the region’s recovery from the avian influenza outbreak. While the lifting of the ban brings much-needed relief to consumers and businesses, it also underscores the importance of maintaining stringent biosecurity measures to prevent future outbreaks. As Mozambique and South Africa continue to rebuild their poultry industries, their commitment to regional cooperation and adherence to international health standards will be crucial in ensuring long-term stability and prosperity.

This development not only benefits the poultry sectors of both countries but also serves as a testament to the resilience and determination of the region in overcoming health crises and fostering economic growth.

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