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Concern over Imports of GM Chickens

by 5m Editor
2 April 2009, at 6:29am

ZIMBABWE - An extraordinary story has hit the headlines about the local poultry industry being damaged by imports of genetically modified (GM) chickens.

All Africa reports agro-concern, CFI Holdings, saying that the importation of genetically modified chicken into the country following liberalisation of the market is negatively impacting on local poultry industry. All Africa cited a report in The Herald, which is published by the government of Zimbabwe.

The diversified holding company is involved in poultry business through its subsidiary Crest Poultry Group, which also includes Hubbard Zimbabwe, Crest Breeders, Suncrest, Agrifoods and Agrimix.

Group chief executive, Steve Kuipa, said the liberalisation of the economy early this year had resulted in an upsurge in low quality poultry imports.

The move was deliberately taken by government to improve product availability following years of commodity shortages in the country.

"Our poultry division has been dealt a big blow given that cheap imported genetically modified product grown elsewhere is finding its way to Zimbabwe where we [local producers] are restricted to use organic feeding," Mr Kuipa said.

Genetically modified chickens take less than a month from incubation to slaughter while those produced using organic feeds take the normal long route which is expensive. This makes locally produced chicken more expensive than imports as the feed are also expensive.

He said the Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) had since made presentations to government to protect the local industry.

Government, he said, had since undertaken to protect the sector through such measures as imposing tax on imports.

Local consumers have also expressed reservations over the quality of imported chicken but due to financial limitations, many are nevertheless buying the imports.

The ZPA believes the local industry has the capacity to meet local demand if it is protected through enactment of legislation that limits imports. The association is also on record calling for stimulation of local poultry production to counter the imports.

CFI Holdings also has interests in agro-processing and retail business through such companies as Victoria Foods, Dore & Pitt and Town and Country among others, concludes the All Africa report.