Cameroon says frozen chicken making a come-back into local markets
The unavailability of table birds in markets due to the outbreak of the avian flu has led to the illegal imports of frozen chicken. Poultry farmers are gnashing their teeth following the outbreak of the avian flu that has crumbled the sector. At the same time, dealers in frozen chicken are rejoicing at the happening, skilfully infiltrating markets in the nation’s capital with the banned foods item. Sources close to the business venture say it is a well established network that connects to the country’s borders with countries like Equatorial Guinea through travel agencies. “It is a complex network,” a cold store attendant hinted that the vendors can never reveal their source of provision.
It is almost impossible to find it in cold stores, with all cold store attendants denying allegations of possessing stocks of the banned chicken. At the Mokolo and Mfoundi markets, on June 20, 2016, there was no trace of frozen chicken either in cold stores and makeshift stalls. All attempts to identify sales points at Mokolo and Mfoundi markets were futile, with fish vendors saying “it was complicated and near impossible”. The scenario was almost different in the Mvog Mbi market where almost 10 petty traders were spotted with frozen chicken for sale. Trade in the forbidden food item in the market is done in the open, with prices ranging from FCFA 500 to FCFA 3,000 for heaps. A carton that hitherto sold at FCFA 16,000 now sells at FCFA 18,000, with vendors alleging the price hikes to the unavailability of table birds in the market.
Vendors in the trade prefer not to be named and as well refuse to reveal the source of their merchandise. They are however quick to testify that their goods undergo checks. They are unable to trace a link. They added that the entry route is the sea contrary to what people say. Consumers are however filling their market bags with the forbidden food item. At the Ministry of Trade, sources say trade in Cameroon is liberalized, though with limitation. The Director of Internal Trade, Biyina Mbarga however revealed that authorization for frozen chicken to be imported into the country are within the competence of the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industry.
The same hold for fish, he stressed. Sources at the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industry are categorical. The Minister in charge has not issued any authorization for frozen chicken to be imported into Cameroon. The slices of chicken found in markets are illegally smuggled into the country, it was stated.