Maseru, Jan. 17 — The government has finally opened borders for poultry products from South Africa (SA), starting on Friday.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition Chief Information Officer Mr. Lereko Masupha, only frozen chicken and fertile eggs will be imported, saying this was agreed during the National Task Force Team meeting held in Maseru on Tuesday (yesterday).
He said the local veterinary doctors’ in collaboration with those from South Africa and the Southern African Development Community pledged to keep an eye on the bird flu infection in SA, saying a report indicated that infection is high in Gauteng Province thus will buy from areas where there is no infection.
He further said only frozen chicken will be imported from SA because infection is usually among living chicken, saying it was also agreed that pullets will be imported from Eswatini, Turkey and Brazil.
Mr. Masupha said the government pledged to provide a subsidy for importation of pullets from above mentioned countries so that farmers could buy at prices same as those of SA.
He said in this regard, statistics of farmers who will buy from these countries should be provided, the task force must provide and compare prices where farmers will buy while at the same time not compromising quality, adding that farmers must know the procedure to be followed for importation of pullets.
Efforts to talk to concerned poultry farmers, distributors and suppliers were unsuccessful as they have since been in a meeting.
Meanwhile the country closed borders for importation of poultry products from SA in October last year and there has been a series of meetings with the Prime Minister Mr. Ntsokoane Matekane and other stakeholders since then as well as a visit to Eswatini.
South Africa was hit by bird flu in October last year and was placed on the red colour by the World Organisation of Animal Health of which Lesotho is a member and had to comply.
However reports from the South African Department of Agriculture indicate that South Africa’s worst bird flu outbreak is now under control and 70% of farms that were not infected continue to produce eggs and chickens.