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07.05.2007 Health

We doubt bird flu story – Tema farmers

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Poultry and livestock farmers in Tema municipality say they doubt the authenticity of last Wednesday's reported outbreak of the H5NI Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Tema.

“Until the virus samples which is to be sent to the World Organisation for Animal Health Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory in Italy is in for confirmation, we the Poultry and Livestock Farmers in the municipality will not believe the outbreak of the bird flu virus,” they said.

The Chairman of Tema Municipal Poultry and Livestock Farmers Association and Farmers Union, Mr Ellis Aferi was speaking to the GNA in an interview in Tema on Saturday.

Reacting to last Wednesday's Press Conference held by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in Accra which announced the outbreak of the disease, he said if the Ministry intended going for confirmation it should not have come out with the announcement.

According to him, currently there is no reliable equipment in the country to detect the virus.

He said the farmers heard the news with shock because if the report turns out to be untrue then panic had been created among the customers and consumers and this would take a long time to rectify thus bringing hardship to them and putting their business at risk.

Mr Aferi said the MOFA rushed into public announcement because it did not wait to collect inputs from the farmers which could have helped a lot to allay public fear.

To buttress his argument, he said all the 160 poultry and livestock farmers in the municipality meet once in a month to deliberate on issues confronting the industry, especially to find out if any of them had detected strange disease among their birds.

They also undertake periodic seminars to educate members on how to handle their birds to prevent contracting diseases.

The Chairman said when they heard the news in the media, all members of the association were assembled and they all denied the detection of the disease on their farms.

Mr Aferi said if the MOFA has come out with the announcement then it could as well have exposed the farm in question to save the image of other farms because presently customers would not know which farm
to patronize.

He however said knowing that the disease is a threat to life, they take precautionary measures on their farms by adhering to experts' advice and assured the public that chicken on their farms are safe to consume.

According to him the farmer on whose farm the alleged virus was detected does not even belong to the association.

Source: GNA

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