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Aug. 12, 2021

STAFF REPORTER

3 min read

Allowing chickens back into Lesotho revives the taut economy

Allowing chickens back into Lesotho revives the taut economy

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THE partial lifting of the ban on the import and export of chickens and all poultry products in the country is such a relief to local farmers and consumers of the products.

Notwithstanding the revenue generated from poultry farming, chickens and their products including eggs provide the cheapest and most readily available proteins in most Basotho meals.

Therefore it goes without saying that the scarcity of chickens and their products in the country for the past two months dealt both the economy and the consumers a debilitating blow.

The good news, however, is that the deadly bird flu that killed scores of chickens in some local commercial poultry farms as well as indigenous chickens and wild birds in various parts of the country is now under control.

Announcing this good news on Tuesday, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Mr Likopo Mahase was quick to add that local farmers were now free to resume trading with their South African partners.

Like a country whose economy primarily relies on agriculture, the poultry industry in Lesotho plays a crucial role in both revenue generation and job creation.

Although the disease is said to be under control now, it is nonetheless imperative for Lesotho to take a strong stance in the fight against the eradication of the virus.

That means the country should consider taking the poultry industry a step further through among others producing its own chickens and eggs, in order to stop relying utterly on import supplies, especially from the neighbouring South Africa.

This is because our geographical location works against us in the manner that being completely enclosed by our only neighbour SA, when she has problems of any sort, especially border related, we are virtually the first to feel the heat, as we do not have an alternative outlet to the outside world.

The poultry farmers themselves should also start completely appreciating the kind of impact they have on Lesotho’s economy and take the issue of investing in keeping their birds healthy more seriously.

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Another area to consider as a way of developing the industry could be to insure their businesses so that when mishaps like the bird flu and others strike, they are not caught napping, with their pants down.  

But the government has an obligation to protect its people and their businesses by working round the clock to ensure that the deadly disease stays away for keeps, while keeping the nation informed on its efforts to stop any transmissions that might have occurred when some people unwittingly consumed the infected chickens at the outbreak of the virus in May.

After all, it is a known fact that the disease is zoonotic – that is, it can be transmitted from animals or chickens to human beings.

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