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Industry Crisis Deepens

by 5m Editor
2 September 2010, at 10:45am

ZIMBABWE - Farmers are struggling to repay bank loans since the ban was lifted on poultry meat imports last month.

Poultry producers in Zimbabwe are heading for a showdown with banks as they battle to repay loans following the lifting of the Government ban on imports, reports The Herald of Zimbabwe.

A senior banking executive this week said Government's decision to lift the ban on poultry product imports had disastrous consequences.

"Instead of allowing poultry products into Zimbabwe, Government should be promoting imports of hatching eggs and parent chickens. Flooding of poultry into Zimbabwe is dangerous for chicken farmers who had received hefty loans for the industry.

"Banking institutions forwarded loans to several farmers for the development of the industry, but Government has allowed cheaper imports to flood the market to the detriment of the local producers," he said.

The official said the farmers were not making money as they could not compete with cheap imports and they were left "high and dry" with banks recalling their loans.

"There is need for Government to reflect on the decision to lift the ban," the official said.

Prominent chicken farmer, Jonathan Kadzura, urged Government to empower local producers.

He said: "Instead of solving consumption problems, intervention should come at the production level. Poultry imports that are much cheaper are an affront to the land reform programme. Government should shift its policy and work on empowering farmers."

Another chicken farmer accused retailers of misleading consumers by repackaging the imports.

He alleged: "The retailers know that people do not like the imports and some shops are packing the chickens in Zimbabwean wrapping to dupe customers. This is serious fraud."

There has also been a general outcry that while Government has banned GMO foods, the products were coming in through 'the back door'.

Zimbabwe Poultry Association chairman, Solomon Zawe, was recently quoted by the local media as saying: "We incur huge costs in rearing our chickens, on equipment and infrastructure. Therefore, our prices are justified, as they include these factors."

Major retail shops sell a two-kilo packet of imported chicken cutlets at around US$4 compared to the US$7.30 for the local birds.

In August, the Government early this month lifted the ban on imports saying it would thoroughly inspect the products to guard against poor quality, according to The Nation. Poultry imports had been suspended since March.