THE government has launched a blitz against illegally imported chicken offals in a bid to protect the local poultry industry after it emerged that butcheries were smuggling the meat into the country, NewsDay has learnt.
Report by Bernard Mpofu
Correspondence seen by this paper shows that the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services has instructed retail outlets to stop the importation of selected meat products.
The department early this month announced that it had stopped issuing permits for chicken feet, gizzards, necks, pork bones and beef livers to butcheries.
It further instructed meat importers to have proper documentation, which includes a veterinary permit, import declaration issued at the border and a release certificate signed by an official from the Veterinary Department.
“We are working with the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) to restore sanity on the meat market.”
“Your buyers are advised to procure imported meats and dairy products from importers who have legally imported them,” reads a letter by deputy director veterinary public health, Hardwork Machakwa.
“You are advised forthwith to stop selling smuggled meats in your retail outlets.Your co-operation is key to our success. In future, we are going to name those outlets which demonstrate unwillingness to comply.”
“Habitual offenders will be fined, prosecuted and have their loot confiscated and destroyed at their expense.”
The local market has, until the recent review of duty, been heavily dependent on chicken imports from Brazil, Argentina and South Africa.
Zimbabwe is believed to have been importing chicken cuts in excess of $65 million per month.
Experts say a perennial shortage of grain, which constitutes 65% of the total cost of breeding chickens, has resulted in local poultry producers being largely uncompetitive.
Finance minister Tendai Biti recently announced a new tariff regime for chicken imports to protect the local poultry industry.
He reviewed customs duty from 40% to $1,50 per kg or 40%, whichever is higher, with effect from November 16.
Responding to the new measures, Kingdom Stockbrokers, in its weekly update, said the protectionist policy could boost the poultry industry in the medium to long term.
“Such protectionist measures may provide incentives for some infant farmers for which prospects exist for the domestic farmers to become competitive over the medium to long term,” reads the report in part.
“The only problem with infant industry protection is that it may lead to the promotion of inefficient industries, which otherwise cannot survive without the protection. As the sector stands, one would say with such a government support, the sector is now poised for greater growth.”
“In addition, local consumers are cautious of consuming GMO (genetically modified) foods if they can help it, hence they view such a move with a positive attitude.”