HARARE - Zimbabwe's chicken industry is under threat from cheap imports which are causing a drop in prices, Livestock and Meat Advisory Council chairperson Solomon Zawe said.
In a presentation to Parliament on Tuesday, Zawe said since the introduction of the multi-currency regime in 2009, the chicken industry has grown by nearly 500 percent.
But despite having received assurances from the Veterinary Services division that no permits on importations of poultry and other meats would be issued, Zawe said the policy still needed a buy-in from industry stakeholders for it to be effective.
“They (imports) are undermining the local industry. Imports drastically reduced since November 2015 but concerns have been raised once again regarding the resurgence of imports, driven by the weakening rand and the African Growth and Opportunity Act agreement (Agoa) between South Africa and USA which includes beef, pork and poultry products,” he said.
Agoa a product of an agreement by former US president Bill Clinton’s administration, came into effect in 2000 and grants privileged access to US markets on the condition that the African states —like South Africa — make progress constantly towards eliminating barriers of entry to US goods as well as investment.
He also said other than imports, growth of the industry was slowing down due to reduced buying power among consumers and lower priced beef products.
Zawe said producer prices for broilers is currently between $1,85 and $1,90 per kilogramme (kg) live weight while wholesale broiler meat prices ranged between $2,50 and $2,80.
The prices, he said, were competing against cheap general meat which is currently selling at around 90 cents per kg.
“After peaking at 6,9 million chicks in June, chick sales and retentions continued to decline to the end of year and totalled 74,5 million in 2015, four percent lower than 2014. Similarly, chick prices declined from $74 per 100 in June to $64 in December,” Zawe said.
He also said that production of table eggs on the large scale sector had declined and averaged 1,56 million dozen eggs per month in 2015, 19 percent lower than that of 2014.
However, production in the small to medium scale sector based on sexed pullets peaked at 3,5 million dozen in December, yielding a total of 5,3 million dozen per month.
He said the estimated increase in egg production may be the reason behind the collapse in producer egg prices which averaged $3,21 per tray in the last quarter of 2015.
“The reduced production of layer hatching eggs in 2015 by 36 percent was offset by a large (309 percent) increase in imports which resulted in record production of sexed pullets of 3,21 million compared to 2,33 million in 2014,” he said.