Cameroon Poultry Farmers Urge Europe to Ease Trade Restrictions
Cameroon's poultry farmers and sellers are calling on authorities at home and in Europe to loosen trade restrictions put in place over the coronavirus pandemic and avian influenza, which have more than doubled the price of chicken.
Scores of chicken sellers in Cameroon's capital held a one-hour sit-in Monday at the Mvog-Ada chicken market to protest the continued restrictions, which have pushed all but about 25 sellers -- out of 300 last year -- out of business.
One of those remaining chicken sellers is 33-year-old single mother Patricia Lamou, who says providing food and education for her four children is proving difficult.
Lamou says her business started to nosedive in March 2020 when Cameroon reported its first cases of COVID-19. She says her supplier blamed COVID-19-related travel restrictions by Cameroon and Europe for making regular supplies of chicks and hatching eggs impossible.
François Djonou, president of Cameroon's Interprofessional Association of Poultry Farmers, says European countries and Cameroon reduced commercial flights to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The poultry shortage was further aggravated in November 2020, when the European Commission reported that multiple European countries had outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as bird flu. The viral infection can cause disease or death in birds and people.
As a precaution, Cameroon banned the import of chicks and hatching eggs from Europe. However, the avian influenza outbreak has since eased.
Cameroon's chicken sellers are pleading with authorities on both sides to drop the trade restrictions, as they are creating a scarcity of chicken and driving up prices in the region.
Since January 2021, the retail cost of 1.5 kilograms of chicken has jumped from $5 to $12 in Cameroon, and up to $15 in neighboring Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, which import from Cameroon.
The poultry farmers group says the situation has forced more than a third of Central Africa's 45,000 large- and small-scale chicken farmers and sellers out of business.