Brazil, one of the largest producers of chicken worldwide, has according to industry pundits been exporting thousands of metric tonnes of chicken products to Namibia – most of which are unwanted in the South American nation.
The 2018 outbreak of salmonella, a common bacterial infection which affects the intestinal tract of poultry, further dented the credibility of Brazil as far as its poultry exports are concerned.
The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) reports that the country has imported 27 000 tonnes of poultry products in 2017, valued at N$401 million.
This figure rose to 36 000 tonnes in 2018, worth about N$473 million.
These figures are for both live and frozen poultry from 34 countries, including Brazil, China, South Africa and Germany.
The dumping of the imported chicken onto Namibian shores has had a negative effect on the local poultry industry, as local broiler producers struggle to compete with the high number of imports.
The Namib Poultry Industry's junior commercial manager, Pieter van Niekerk, confirmed this state of affairs last week, and called for something drastic to be done to reverse this trend.
He was speaking at a poultry information day hosted by the Namibia Agricultural Union in Windhoek.
Van Niekerk said the imports in large quantities of inferior chicken from countries such as Brazil and South Africa continues to plague the local industry.
“In Europe and the United States, breast fillets and wings are in high demand, leaving the low demanded leg quarters as a surplus production. These portions are frozen, and taken to any market at whatever price,” he explained.
Van Niekerk said restrictions on the quantities that can be imported into this country will not only prevent inferior products from entering the country, but could also benefit local producers.
“Currently, it is financially more lucrative to import cheap, low-quality products and sell them at high local prices,” he stated.
Van Niekerk noted that if the import policy makes it more lucrative to produce locally, duties will go to the government to use for further development as local producers will start pursuing more business in the local poultry industry.
“Replacing imports of up to 3 000 metric tonnes with local SME production could see the GDP and job creation growing,” he continued.
He was particularly vexed that some of the foreign suppliers do not put in efforts to improve their product packaging.
The Namibian has observed unbranded or poorly branded chicken packaging at some local retailers, which had limited information on the producer or supplier of the product.
Van Niekerk stated that currently, Namibia only exports poultry by products to Zambia for feeding fish.
“Exporting poultry to other countries is difficult as all other countries in the region have realised how important poultry is as a staple protein source, and hence veterinary and/or trade restrictions are in place,” he said.