St Helena Government (SHG) would like to answer the questions and respond to various statements made in the article ‘Headless Chickens’ – Roddy’s Story printed on pages 9-12 of the St Helena Independent newspaper, dated 16 August 2019.

In bold are the relevant statements and related questions from the article followed by SHG’s response in italics:

  • In February 2015 the RMS went offline, so eggs were imported (with incubation procedures in place) from Germany by the SHG Husbandry Section.  Why did they not just import chicks from South Africa?

There were no bio-secure sources of chicks identified by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (ANRD) at the time from the Cape area that could be imported via ship for St Helena.

  • During the initiation of Roddy’s business, Island legislation insisted that no chicks should be imported from South Africa due to disease implications. So what has changed since then with regards to chicks coming from South Africa?

Air access to St Helena has provided an opportunity for ANRD to investigate bio-secure suppliers of chicks outside of the Cape area to support egg production on the Island.  This has resulted in identifying and risk assessing a chick supplier located just outside of Johannesburg in order to meet St Helena’s veterinary biosecurity requirements.  This was not possible in 2015 and has resulted in the development of having day-old chicks flown to St Helena.

  • However, it is wondered what happened to the legislation that said no chicks were to be imported from South Africa? What has happened to this policy to safe-guard the Island population against disease?

There is no and has not been any legislation banning imports of chicks originating from South Africa into St Helena. There has been a ban imposed by St Helena for a short period of time when there was a poultry disease outbreak in South Africa in 2017, but not an overall ban as might have been thought to be in operation for South Africa. Such imports are controlled through the Animals (Diseases) Regulations as follows:

Regulation 3 (1) No animal may be imported or brought into St Helena except —

(a) under a licence previously granted by the Agricultural Authority, having regard to the conditions and requirements contained in the Health Standards prescribed in respect of the importation of animals; and

(b) upon production of a veterinary certificate at time of importation confirming compliance with the conditions and requirements contained in the Health Standards referred to in paragraph (a).

The Amberlink chicks are sourced from a highly bio-secure unit in South Africa and were identified and risk assessed by the ANRD Senior Veterinary Officer. This supplier was not previously known to ANRD and breeds for their own laying and broiler units. The supplier vaccinates against nine diseases and following risk assessment had satisfied St Helena’s biosecurity import requirements for day-old chicks. In addition to the risk assessment and provision of veterinary certification secured from the supplier, the chicks are subjected to a minimum four-week quarantine period at the animal quarantine station in Rupert’s Valley. SHG is confident that the veterinary biosecurity processes in place for these imports provide an acceptable level of risk for continual maintenance of the Island’s egg production requirements, as all imports to St Helena carry some degree of risk to the Island community and cannot be completely mitigated.

  • Enter the second, third and fourth batches of chicks from South Africa, however this time, with little consultation…If Roddy could not be supplied with his full quote from batch two who were the recipients pushing for these additional batches? If the island had exceeded its demand by batch three, why was an additional batch ordered? Is it possible that there is no supply and demand strategy and no consideration of long term economic management?

Roddy was not being used as the main reason to bring in batch two and three. ANRD had already received orders for 3,000 chicks from the public and so batch two and three would have gone ahead. Roddy had not placed any orders for chicks before the ANRD chick order list closed but ANRD agreed to allow him to have chicks across the three consignments to assist his plans. It is because of the preference given to Roddy that the fourth consignment of chicks were imported. With less than 450 remaining on the list (had the 600 gone to the producers who had placed their timely orders), this latest import would not have gone ahead.

  • It has been suggested that the recipients of these day-old chicks are ANRD staff, SHG staff and even Councillors. Could this be classed as another targeted subsidy?

ANRD advised the Economic Development Committee before importing the chicks that a one-off untargeted subsidy would be implemented for the chick layer replenishment exercise for the Island on this occasion, and would extend to all egg producers.

 The chick orders advertisement placed by ANRD was open to the entire Island to access day-old chicks, as Roddy had advised ANRD on completion of his partnership project that he no longer wished to supply chicks to the public. 

The following numbers of chicks were ordered by, and supplied to, SHG staff through the four consignments of imports:

ANRD staff – 217

Other SHG staff – 346

 This represents 14% of the 4,000 chicks having being ordered by small-holders who are SHG employees.  The largest SHG order was for 36 chicks from an SHG employee. We plan to issue chicks to a Councillor from batch four, which is in quarantine, but no chicks have been issued to any Councillor from batches one to three.

SHG

23 August 2019

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