After being wiped out by the massive imports of frozen chicken until 2005, then by a national psychosis created by the discovery of the avian flu virus on a duck carcass in the Extreme-North in 2006, the Cameroonian poultry sector is again on the verge of collapsing.
On 3 June 2016, the public authorities announced that the avian flu epizooty declared in the city of Yaoundé a week earlier, has spread to the Western region. This news is even more serious for the local poultry sector considering that the Western region represents, on its own, approximately 80% of the national production, according to the operators’ statistics.
In other words, with the ban on the sale of chicken in Bafoussam, mainly, and the whole Mifi and Koung-khi departments, where two outbreaks of avian flu were diagnosed, the Cameroonian poultry sector finds itself without any market. And this, whether on the local or sub-regional level.
Indeed, at the local stage, the market is supplied from the city of Bafoussam, meanwhile to conquer the sub-regional market (Gabon, one of the main markets, has even banned imports of chicken from Cameroon), the poultry production from West-Cameroon transits through Yaoundé, the capital of the country in which the sale of chicken has been banned for a week now. This ban follows the death of 24,000 birds from avian flu at the Mvog-Betsi Avian Complex, which thus lost 75% of its flock.
Target of 50 million chickens in 2016 seems compromised
These bans which hit the poultry market have negative consequences on the cash flow of the farmers and hatchery operators, who now have to stock their products for longer (the disinfection of the Yaoundé markets could last a month, according to the Ministry of Livestock), with additional production costs (poultry feed and veterinarian treatments, for example).
But above all, the local production will decrease. Indeed, with the current situation, the poultry sector will have difficulties making available the 50 million chickens announced for 2016 by the Poultry Trade Organisation of Cameroon (Ipavic). Especially due to the loss of 33,000 adult poultry at the reproductive state (24,000 dead following the avian flu and the remainder slaughtered as a preventive measure) in the Mvog-Betsi Avian Complex, 4th hatchery of the country.
According to the figures communicated to RFI by the engineer agronomist Bernard Njonga, who was at the forefront of the fight against imports of frozen chicken in Cameroon, 1.3 million eggs to hatch were also destroyed in this poultry farm (equivalent to as many potential chicks), as well as approximately 1.4 million chicks who were killed (equivalent to as many potential broilers). In the western part of the country, 300,000 chicks produced per day will remain unsold due to the ban on the chicken trade, if they are not simply slaughtered by the hatchery operators to avoid creating additional productions costs.
In 2006, a psychosis following the discovery of the H5N1 virus on a duck carcass led to losses estimated at FCfa 3 billion in the Cameroonian poultry sector. In 2016, with a minimum of 3 outbreaks of avian flu already declared in the main production areas and markets of the country (Yaoundé, Bafoussam and Bayangam), the bill might prove hefty for this sector employing approximately 400,000 people and weighting 3.3% in the GDP.