Poultry experts in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region have warned of risks of bird flu being spread through poultry smuggling.
Representatives of poultry associations from SADC member countries were cited by Wednesday's local newspaper The Post as saying the region risked getting the deadly avian influenza through bird smugglers rather than migratory birds.
They agreed at a recent meeting that only warranted bird flu free products be exported legitimately.
The member states also reminded each other on the need to ensure that all bio-security measures be put in place to minimize the risks.
"Member country trade authorities should ensure that only legitimate trade should be permitted," said the report released by Poultry Association of Zambia (PAZ) executive manager Mathews Ngosa.
Ngosa said there had been panic reactions by authorities regarding bird flu resulting in unnecessary disruption to trade.
"As member countries, we agreed to establish compartments in accordance with international standards and allow imports from approved producers," Ngosa said.
"SADC governments should increase surveillance to satisfy importing countries," he added.
The delegates also said the need for SADC to establish a common policy for monitoring flocks and on how to deal with outbreaks with regard to bird flu.
They also called for the establishment of a SADC information center to allow for exchange of information in the poultry industry.