Posted with permission from allAfrica.com

Poultry producers could be forced to import hatching eggs from Europe on the back of local and regional shortages that were triggered by the outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza virus commonly known as bird flu.

Gweru-based chicken producer, Fairhill Chickens is already feeling the pinch and is making efforts to source hatchery eggs from Europe broke out in the region, particularly South Africa, in the recent months. The H5N8 has been detected in several countries around the globe whose spread is aided by wild birds' migration. Fairhill Chickens managing director, Mr Trevor Shaw, told Business Chronicle that while importing from Europe was very expensive, other SADC countries cannot satisfy local demand.

"We have made plans to get hatching eggs from other places particularly Europe. Government has taken off 40 percent duty on hatching eggs from non-SADC countries and we are now able to bring hatching eggs from Europe. This is because there is no surplus from other SADC countries because South Africa, which is the biggest producer, has also been hit hard by bird flu and its products have been suspended. We are, however, receiving hatching eggs from Zambia and Botswana but they are not adequate for local market," he said.

The Fairhill boss feared that importation of hatching eggs might trigger price increases in poultry products as it was expensive to import from Europe.

"What this means is that chicks are going to cost a dollar each up from 55 cents a month ago. This, therefore, means there is close to a 100 percent increase in the price of the chicks, which has an effect on the price of chickens," he added.

Mr Shaw said despite the setbacks players in the industry were confident of growth of the industry owing to decline of smuggling of chickens from neighbouring countries.