ONGWEDIVA – The smuggling of chickens from Angola into Namibia could hinder efforts by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to prevent the resurgence of Newcastle disease in Omusati Region.
A year ago the outbreak of the disease prompted the government to enforce a ban on the movement of chickens.
Chief veterinarian for Omusati, Dr Josephat Peter, said the smuggling of chickens also hampers the business prospects for emerging producers in the northern communal areas (NCAs).
Peter told of how a local farmer lost 48 chickens after she had bought two chickens from the Oshakati open market.
“She brought the chickens home and after five days they were showing symptoms of Newcastle. Samples were taken and laboratory tests confirmed it as positive,” Peter said.
But despite the surveillance mechanisms in place, chicken smugglers continue to find new routes to smuggle chickens into Namibia.
Recently the agriculture ministry fined a smuggler and seized about 87 chickens that were brought into the country from Angola through an ungazetted entry point.
The chickens, once in the country, are sold for N$65 and resold at the Oshakati open market for N$150.
The smuggling of chickens and its sale are rife at a time northern local authorities are hosting trade fairs.
Peter explained that the disease has since been contained with the moratorium still in force before the outbreak is declared over.
He added that such victory can however only be attained if everybody adheres to the control measures in place.
Joint operations between the community, the police and veterinary officials to curb this illicit practice are taking place.
Apart from being smuggled, the chickens are also transported inhumanely – tied by their legs with the head upside down, strapped to the backs of donkeys.
As a result, the chickens when sold are weak, the vet explained.