Poultry Association of Zambia (PAZ) says farmers should take advantage and strengthen their export market positions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe, where outbreaks of bird flu have restricted supply of chickens and eggs within the affected countries.

Zambia has sufficient stocks to supply the local and regional markets, although certain birds like turkeys, quails and chicken products (de-boned/fillet) are imported into the country.

According to PAZ, annual production normally averages above 70 million day-old chicks, of which about 60 million is consumed by the domestic market while 7.5 million is exported mainly to the DRC with about 1.9 million considered as drowned, meaning there was no market and the chickens were just slaughtered and ate by the farmers.

Government has since issued a notice restricting imports of live chickens and chicken products from Zimbabwe and DRC due to the resurgence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) which may have a devastating effect on the Zambian poultry industry.

In an interview recently, PAZ executive secretary Dominic Chanda said Zambian exports are not affected as a result of the outbreaks.

“Although the outbreak is in the northern part of DRC near Rwanda and southern part of Zimbabwe near South Africa, Government has restricted imports of chickens including the importation of equipment used in the poultry sector because of the high risk of contamination.

“Nevertheless, our farmers should utilise this opportunity and expand their footprints in these regional markets,” Mr. Chanda said.