AFRICA - Power woes hobbling the southern African region are hitting poultry producers in Zimbabwe and Zambia, writes our correspondent on the continent, Tawanda Korombo.
Meantime, regional powerhouse South Africa is set to resume ostrich products exports to the European Union and Ethiopia launching a massive poultry project aimed at empowering rural women and youths in the country.
Power problems hitting production
Despite power utility executives expressing optimism that the region’s power generation problems will have improved by 2025, according to a survey report by PwC, the current situation has been devastating for poultry producers.
Poultry farmers in Zambia’s Mansa province have even turned to charcoal as an alternative source of energy to warm up their poultry.
“Almost all our members are now saying that chicken business is very expensive. We have to spend on feed, vaccine, charcoal, maize bran and other costs to ensure that we stay afloat,” Dennis Ng’andwe, chairperson of poultry producers in the region said.
Zambia is apparently a crucial poultry market for international financiers and investors. It has caught the interest of Dutch investors with embassy officials saying they are scouting for opportunities in the southern African country.
"Information about areas that hold investment potential in the poultry sector is very scant. In addition, very little is documented about the interest of Zambian investors in local and international poultry industry partnerships," said officials.
In South Africa, Kevin Lovell, chief executive officer of the South African Poultry Producers Association – whose organisation in July pleaded with the government to seek ways to ensure power suppliers for poultry producers – said chicken slaughterhouses that processed 13 000 chickens per hour could not rely on generators for sufficient power supplies.
Fighting illegal import
While Zambian and Zimbabwean poultry producers are grappling with power cuts, Angola this month destroyed about 11 million illegally imported chicken eggs as African countries ratchet up pressure on cheap poultry products imports that they say are constraining local producers.
However, according to experts, local producers are constrained by rising input costs and are unable to meet demand, leading to shortages of poultry, a key protein nutrient for the region’s population.
“These eggs that were imported in large quantities – about 11 million – cannot be introduced into the market and will be destroyed,” AFP quoted a statement from the Zambian Ministry of Commerce.
Angola allows quota imports of chicken eggs of about 156 million eggs per year. The local industry produces around 25 million per month although the country is keen to push up production to about 40 million chicken eggs per month.
South Africa's ostrich exports resume
The European Union boosted South Africa’s ostrich farming industry after the bloc lifted a four year ban on imports of fresh ostrich meat from the continent’s second largest economy. South African exports into the EU were banned after the 2011 outbreak of avian influenza, dealing a major blow to a ready market for the industry.
"Resuming exports to the EU will play an important role in increasing the number of jobs in this industry, which currently employs over 50,000 residents," Alan Winde, minister of economic development for the provincial government in the Western Cape was quoted saying.
Poultry genetics project to boost industry
In east and west Africa, a poultry project by the International Livestock Research Institute is seeking to empower disadvantaged youth and women in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria and also giving a major boost to economic activity in the three African countries. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has launched the African Chicken Genetic Gains (ACGG) Project.
Reports say the ACGG project will seek to improve chicken genetics and come up with chickens that can easily cope with conditions in the regions.
"The project works to create a conducive environment suited to the exotic chicken to be imported from Africa, Asia and Latin America by the coming January," said project manager, Dr Tadele Dessie.
"It also is working on identifying, sourcing and employing tropically adapted and productive chicken traits," Dr Dessie added.
The project’s bid to involve women and the private sector “makes the project unique in chicken production in Africa," with increased chicken production seen as translating “more jobs” and rising investment in chicken production by private companies.
Strong demand aids revenues in North Africa
In North Africa, the PGH (Poulina) Group said revenues had risen by 8 per cent during the second quarter of the current year on the back of strong poultry demand in Morocco, which helped the company improve revenue generation from its poultry integration trade which had strengthened by as much as 16 per cent.
However, authorities in Morocco declared a state of alert at border posts to curb spread of the avian flu after cases were reported in Germany.
There were reports that Morocco had imposed a ban on imported poultry meat and eggs from Germany.
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