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African campaigner calls for cage free egg production

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Rearing poultry in metal enclosures with limited ventilation that has gained traction in Africa to help meet rising demand for eggs poses a significant threat to the environment and human health, a campaigner said recently.

Victor Yamo, Farming Campaigns manager at World Animal Protection African Office said that caged poultry farming might comprise safety of consumers of eggs and chicken meat.

“The caged system of rearing chicken to help meet a huge demand for eggs and meat in Africa’s growing cities is often accompanied by public health and environmental risks,” Yamo said during a virtual briefing in Nairobi.

Statistics from World Animal Protection indicate that Africa produces about 2.2 million tons of eggs annually as their demand in rapidly growing urban centers spikes. However, Yamo pointed out that caged chicken is not connected to the natural environment, so their mobility is limited and is susceptible to diseases that can be transmitted to consumers.

Yamo said that industrial poultry farming is being phased out in the industrial north even as it gains a foothold in Africa where demand for animal based proteins among urban middle income groups is on the rise.

“In Africa, poultry farming is transforming from indigenous systems to intensified industrial systems,” said Yamo, calling for strong policies and regulations to streamline the caged battery system of producing eggs in order to minimize the risk to consumers and the natural environment.

A study conducted recently by World Animal Protection in four African countries indicates that more than 80 percent of consumers prefer organic eggs produced by free-range chicken as opposed to the ones produced in a caged environment.

Yamo said that African consumer lobby groups on the continent have partnered with global retail chains to lobby for cage free egg production.