It is illegal for any company or anybody to import beef and chickens into Zambia unless it is mechanically deboned, says Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda.
And the Ministry of Agriculture has appealed to the managers of border facilities in the country, especially the Zambia Revenue Authority and the police to ensure that all importers of food commodities had valid import permits.
Mr Lubinda said in an interview in Livingstone that nobody is allowed to import food stuffs which were not mechanically deboned.
He was reacting to the revelations that the country was still importing fish, beef and chickens from Europe, China and Brazil through the Katima Mulilo Border Post in Sesheke District of Western Province.
“Nobody is allowed to import chickens and beef into Zambia unless they are mechanically deboned. Mechanically deboned meats are the ones that are allowed to be imported. I don’t remember anyone in the Ministry of Agriculture informing me that they had issued import permits for chickens or beef.
“I hear about some people importing food products but what we don’t hear is whether those people have valid import permits or not. Yes for fish, I have stated before that our fish industry is still young and we don’t have sufficient fish to feed the nation. And you are aware that a lot of Zambians depend on fish for their proteins,” Mr Lubinda said.
He however said the consumption of fish in Zambia is less than 10 kilogrammes per capita per year.
Mr Lubinda disclosed that international consumption of fish protein was much more than 25 kg per capita per year.
“If you stop the importation of fish totally, you would make the price of fish to go up beyond the reach of many Zambians and this is the reason we still allow the importation of fish,” he said.
Mr. Lubinda however said for anyone to import any food commodities into Zambia, he or she is required to obtain a valid import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture.
He explained that before the Ministry of Agriculture issued a permit, an importer was expected get a Phytosanitary certificate from the Ministry of Health because they could not import food products without being certified.
“We cannot import food products without certifying ourselves. If we do that, then we risk giving our people low standard and low quality imported food commodities if we don’t follow the certification process,” he said.