Poultry Traders Angry At Govt Over Bird Flu Menace

Some Poultry traders are angry at government over its handling of the bird flu menace the nation is currently facing.

To the poultry traders, government is doing very little about the outbreak of the bird flu which is affecting their businesses and threatening the employment of those who work under them.

According to the Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) of Juel Catering Services, Mrs. Nana Esi Hoyles, who spoke on behalf of her colleagues, the outbreak of the bird flu is also affecting the activities of food vendors, cold store operators as well as consumers.

Mrs. Hoyles explained that even though the Ministry allayed the fears of the public by assuring that critical measures were being taken to contain the disease with an assurance to the public to continue to “freely” consume poultry because poultry and poultry products in the country were still safe for consumption, there is no education campaign on the disease to educate the citizenry on how to keep themselves safe.

She disclosed that the lack of education on the outbreak of the disease has resulted in the low patronage of chicken across the country, a situation, if not addressed, could collapse the industry.

Mrs. Hoyles averred that the bird flu outbreak will collapse businesses if government does not put proper measures in place to curb the menace.

At Partners May Hotel, one of the hospitality facilities in town, the workers confirmed the statement of Mrs. Hoyles to the effect that people are now moving away from the purchasing of chicken but rather buying more fish.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) says the public should cook the poultry products well before consumption, adding that, there was however a ban on the movement of poultry and poultry products until they can be certain that the virus has been contained after samples sent to the World Organization (WHO) for Animal Health (OIE) reference laboratory in Italy affirmed the outbreak of bird flu in the country.

Mr. Fiifi Kwetey, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, addressing the media in Accra when the disease was detected in four poultry farms in Accra and Tema said “We do not know how much further it may have spread, but we do know the most effective way to fight the virus is through robust collaboration of the public and our veterinary services. The sooner they are notified of a potential instance of avian influenza the sooner they can respond, which gives the virus less of a chance to spread.”

The Minister explained that following the preliminary confirmation by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the Accra Veterinary Laboratory in late May this year, experts moved to contain the outbreak and mitigate its further spread by isolating identified farms and destruction of all poultry, eggs, feed and other materials on those affected farms.

Mr. Kwetey said the Ministry had also requested the assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to support Ghana’s surveillance team to which a mission of experts had been dispatched to the country as of June 7 to assist Ghana with technical support on avian influenza response.

On the impact of the bird flu in the country, the Minister said the disease represented a serious threat to the poultry sector that had been growing in recent years with domestic production currently accounting for 30 per cent of domestic demand.

Dr Hannah Bisiw, the Deputy Minister in charge of Livestock at MoFA, explained that avian influenza was a viral disease that could be transmitted from birds to human through direct contact with sick birds or their secretions, therefore people should be careful how they handled their sick birds.

She advised the public to monitor both domestic birds and other pet birds they kept at home and report to the veterinary office should they notice any changes in them.

She also appealed to owners of the affected poultry farms to cooperate with the authorities to help find the source of the influenza outbreak in the country for better management, saying, “we still do not know the source of the disease”.

Meanwhile Ghana has appealed to the international community for additional support and resources “during this time of need to effectively safeguard not only Ghana’s poultry sector but also the poultry industry of West Africa as a whole”.

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