Mozambique on high alert as bird flu detected south of the country

The Mozambican authorities have revealed that inspections have been reinforced throughout the country, mainly on the border with South Africa and in the provinces close to Inhambane, due to bird flu that has been detected in a production unit south of the country.

The price of eggs has skyrocketed in the markets of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, since bird flu was detected, with the price of a ‘favo’ of 30 eggs rising to more than 300 meticais (four euros).

A tray of 30 eggs used to cost 230 meticais (€3.00), but has risen to more than 300 meticais since last week in the Mozambican capital.

“Before, I would buy six cartons of eggs, and now I buy only two or three at most to resell. Even customers no longer buy as much as they used to because eggs are expensive,” Helena Alexandre, owner of a grocery store in the Janete market in the centre of Maputo city, told Lusa

Helena, aged 48, attributes the price rise to the shortage of eggs in Maputo, also mentioning that she stopped selling the 30-unit comb due to high acquisition costs.

“The situation is not good; even getting the egg is difficult. Now I sell a dozen for 160 meticais (€2.00), but before it cost 100 meticais (€1.00),” Helena says. She has been at the Janete Market for five years.

At issue is bird flu detected in a production unit in the Mozambican province of Inhambane, leading to the cull of 45,000 laying hens that produced around 44,000 eggs daily for consumption, a case linked to dozens of outbreaks of two different strains now spreading in neighbouring South Africa.

Provincial Director of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mariamo Luísa Pedro José, had already warned in an interview with Lusa of a possible rise in the price of eggs after the incineration of almost 12,000 eggs in Maputo.

“We are not too worried about the drop in production,” José said. “What we really fear is the rise in prices.”.

Lina João, a 58-year-old housewife, has started buying eggs individually, and only when one of the five children she lives with asks, because prices no longer allow her to buy a dozen eggs like she used to.

Mozambique on high alert as bird flu detected south of the country

“To buy an egg, the person needs to ask me, and then I give this person the money, and the person will buy one,” says the informal fruit seller, sitting in front of her stall on the promenade of Avenida Karl Max in Maputo.

The housewife told Lusa that her children started sharing the egg among themselves. One egg now costs 15 meticais (€0.22), where previously it cost 10 meticais (€0.14).

Despite the bird flu alert in Mozambique, the price of chicken in Maputo remains the same, but vendors are apprehensive, demanding that veterinarians take measures to prevent the strain from reaching their cages of chickens in the food sector at the market.

“I live around chickens, so I’m afraid. I pray every day that the flu doesn’t get here,” said Francisca Matchessa, a chicken seller for over 20 years.

Francisca said she feared that the bird flu would reach Maputo before she had paid her supplier who, according to the saleswoman, “will not care about the bird flu” and “will only demand her money”.

“The chicken is what guarantees the bread at home.” If my house is standing, it’s because of the chicken, and if this disease comes in, now what am I supposed to sell?” the 50-year-old saleswoman asks.

While the avian influenza strain still does not reach the capital, housewives are stockpiling chicken in large quantities, anticipating times of scarcity, Francisca says.

Read also: Backyard Poultry Farming: 7 Tips for Small-Scale Chicken Production

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