Tuesday, April 03, 2012

‘Restrictions on importation of poultry products will inhibit economic growth'

‘Restrictions on importation of poultry products will inhibit economic growth'
By Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe
Tue 03 Apr. 2012, 12:57 CAT

ZACA says restrictions in the importation of poultry products from South Africa will inhibit the growth of the economy and market competition. But the Poultry Association of Zambia has said the country is not facing any deficit in poultry products to warrant imports.

In an interview yesterday, Zambia Consumers Association (ZACA) executive secretary Muyunda Ililonga said the association fully supports the importation of poultry products from South Africa as it was good for consumer choice and market competition.

Ililonga said the recent attacks on the decision by Shoprite and Game Stores to import chickens from South Africa were unjustified and not good for the market.

He said the Minister of Agriculture Emmanuel Chenda should not promote local curtails that could breed uncompetitiveness in poultry products at the expense of consumer welfare.

Ililonga said import competition was good for consumer welfare and there was no need to block Zambians from accessing affordable sources of protein simply because some individuals had complained that they would be out of the market.

He said his association was saddened that the government was not addressing the main problem of Zambia being uncompetitive.

"South Africa itself is facing import competition with chickens from Brazil but they have not blocked importation of chickens. Brazil is producing chickens at a cheaper price than South Africa and the poultry association in South Africa has complained to their trade commission not merely to arm-twist government like the way the Poultry Association of Zambia and the Farmers Union are doing," Ililonga said.

He said as long as the government restricts competition and allows inefficiency; the jobs in the poultry sector would remain at less than 400 jobs.

Ililonga said opening up the poultry market for importation and competition would compel local producers to be innovative, lessen their production costs and give value to the consumers.

He said in addressing the challenges facing the poultry industry, the government must investigate why the cost of stock feed in Zambia remained very high despite consecutive bumper harvests.

"The main ingredient in stock feed is maize and the complaint of farmers in poultry is the cost of stock feed. In countries where competition commissions are robust, they have investigated curtails in the stock feed industry and they have dealt with them but here these curtails of continued to pass costs to farmers and consumers are now bearing all these costs," Ililonga said.

But Poultry Association of Zambia executive manager Mathews Ngosa says the South African poultry industry is collapsing owing to imports from Brazil.

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