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Minister Defends End to Poultry Import Ban

by 5m Editor
24 September 2010, at 9:42am

ZIMBABWE - The Finance Minister has defended the government's decision to lift a ban poultry meat imports.

Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, has defended government's decision in August to lift a ban on poultry imports imposed in March, saying the trade restriction had resulted in shortages and pushed up prices to unacceptable levels.

The ban covered poultry and dairy products, meat, stock feeds and live animals, according to Newsday of Zimbabwe.

Mr Biti said: "Poultry producers came to me begging that they could meet demand and asked for protection to be able to do so. I agreed and announced a ban.

"But in two months, there was virtually no chicken in the shops and the price (of whole chicken) had shot from $4 to $8. I then said to myself, 'Is this what these guys were asking to do?'"

The Minister's remarks were in response to a public outcry by the Zimbabwe Poultry Association that rescinding the policy threatened to erode the capacity gains the industry had achieved during five months of market protection.

Solomon Zawe, Zimbabwe Poultry Association chairman, said the import ban had boosted local production capacity to 75 per cent, from around 10 per cent in March and argued the rescission decision should have been delayed to give the industry time to prepare for competition against cheaper genetically modified (GM) livestock, according to Newsday.

He said: "The industry had not realised the full benefits of the ban. We need a level playing field. We are not allowed to use GMOs feeds in our livestock when the country is importing GMO feed, which are cheap and have 30 to 40 per cent bran solution."