Why Did the Chicken Come to Tanzania?

TANZANIA - Two weeks ago, some Tanzanian poultry farmers complained of cheap chicken being imported from Brazil. It has transpired that the importers have taken advantage of the ban on chicken from South Africa, due to bird flu, to turn to Brazil.

The Brazilian chickens are selling at about Tsh2,000 ($2) while local ones are going for Tsh2,500 ($2.50). When the farmers complained, a minister is said to have advised them to improve the quality of their product. They were reminded that Tanzania is a liberalised market.

The chicken saga is a classic example of the age-old debate on the role of government in a liberal economy. While the government saw it as its duty to prevent the spread of the bird flu, it did not think likewise of the substandard Brazilian chickens, which are said to have been rejected in the American and European markets. Does Tanzania have a mechanism for monitoring the quality of imports? The Tanzanian Bureau of Standards (TBL) has been very rigorous when it comes to monitoring toxic material.

But it appears that substandard products are tolerable as long as they are not biologically harmful. Even when the quality of products is high enough to meet local requirements, the issue of dumping still needs to be dealt with, though this responsibility does not fall under TBL. Dumping, which means exporting at a price that is lower than the cost of manufacture, is harmful to local industries. It is already bad enough that modern technology makes imports cheaper and of higher quality. What happens is that so much get produced that the surplus that fails to get a market is sold below the production cost.

Source: AllAfrica
calendar icon 3 March 2005
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