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05.06.2006 Health

Bird Flu, Vet Still Alert

By Graphic

The Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has not relented in its efforts to deal with the deadly Avian influenza (bird flu).

It has also reiterated its earlier advice to consumers to patronise poultry products in the country, describing them as safe.

The latest measure, according to the Director of the Division, Dr Mensah Agyen-Frempong, involved the spraying of the tyres of all vehicles entering the country across the borders with Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire, two neighbouring countries where the presence of the deadly virus has been reported.

The exercise, he told the Daily Graphic, was to eliminate the presence of the virus which might be carried by the tyres of vehicles from those countries into Ghana.

Dr Agyen-Frempong told the Daily Graphic that the move was one way of making sure that the dreadful virus did not enter the country through other means.

In an earlier precaution last February, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and PSI placed a ban on the importation of live birds, poultry and all poultry products from Cote d' Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Iran, Nigeria, Romania and Turkey, as well as 10 Asian countries, as a result of the outbreak of the disease in those countries.

For the enforcement of the ban, the ministry said designated officers at all points of entry to the country had been instructed to confiscate and destroy any poultry products imported from the above-mentioned countries.

It said all inspection companies had also been instructed not to issue final classification and valuation reports for poultry products imported from the countries concerned.

Bird Flu is a highly contagious disease which can be transmitted from birds to human beings.
Dr Agyen-Frempong said the division was still monitoring the situation to check the disease from entering the country.

He said the threat was not over yet, and appealed to the general public to report any sign of the disease to officials of the service or health institutions.

In a related development, sales of poultry products, which went down in the wake of the bird flu scare, have risen within the last couple of weeks.

A visit by the Daily Graphic to some companies which deal in both consumable poultry products and chemicals in Accra showed encouraging signs compared to the period between January and March, 2006.

At the offices of Darko Farms in Accra, the Managing Director, Reverend Kwabena Darko, confirmed that sales of various poultry products which dropped some months ago had gone up significantly.

He said things were so bad around the early months of the year, that about 10 per cent of the company's workforce voluntarily resigned while many of those who stayed were asked to go on mass leave.

Rev Darko said for about four months the production cycle of the company was distorted and added that the company would need about five months to bring the cycle back.

At the Beyeeman Freezing Company, the Assistant Storekeeper, Mr Godfred Ampofo, said for the past two weeks business was picking up.

He said the company, which received and kept products for customers, was also affected after the last Christmas holidays.

According to Mr Ampofo, the company used to receive about three containers in a month for storage but it dropped to less than one container after the Christmas period.

He said that had risen to about two containers currently.
A retailer at the company premises who did not want to be named said his sales dropped from 25 cartons a day to about nine cartons, adding that “currently it has gone up to about 18 cartoons a day”.

At the Afariwa Farms in Accra, the Sales/Marketing Manager, Dr Julius Denyo, told the Daily Graphic that business outlook which was bad some few months ago and compelled the company to kill some of the day-old birds because people were not buying had picked up.