​Why import Malaysian poultry?

Is there a problem with Papua New Guinea’s poultry industry, hence the decision to import from Malaysia?

This was just one of the many questions raised after Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Tommy Tomscoll, said the importation of these uncooked, frozen poultry products was allowed after a careful and comprehensive risk assessment process.

The Minister, in a paid advertisement, said the assessment started in 2006, “when the importer first requested market access for chicken meat from Malaysia”.

If that is so, then why is the Poultry Industry of PNG set against these frozen imports?

PIA president Chris Prestwood tells Loop PNG: “There is good competition within the country. We are supplying the market and it supports the K450 million SME sector.”

Prestwood says the industry in PNG provides the country’s varied product needs from clean, healthy stock, therefore it needs protection.

However, the Chief Veterinary Officer at the National Agriculture, Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA), Dr Gibasa Asiba, supported Minister Tomscoll’s statement.

“There are procedures in place like the Import Risk Analysis, which is based on world standards and each and every country carry out such before a new product is allowed access or coming out from a new source,” he told Loop PNG.

“Regarding the safety of the product, if there was a doubt, it would not have been allowed access.”

Early last month, the PIA raised the alarm after discovering that “uncooked frozen poultry products are being imported illegally”.

“This is extremely dangerous for PNG farmers and wildlife because highly virulent H5N1 avian influenza, or human bird flu, Newcastle disease and infectious bursal disease, can be carried on frozen carcasses,” PIA spokesman, Dr Keith Galgal, said.

The Industry is afraid of the risks these imports might place on PNG’s small-scale poultry farming, which is a major avenue of income for rural families.

(The imported product that was discovered in a Port Moresby shop last month)

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Carmella Gware