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14.03.2006 General News

Minister caution poultry farmers about bird flu alarm

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Sunyani (B/A) March 14, GNA - Ms. Anna Nyamekye, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in-charge of livestock on Tuesday expressed concern about the behaviour of poultry farmers who caused unnecessary alarm about the detection of avian bird flu in their poultry farms in order to obtain compensation from government. She also condemned the practice by some media practitioners to disseminate distorted information about the disease in the country, which she said had restricted the general public from consuming poultry products, particularly chicken.

Ms. Nyamekye, also Member of Parliament for Jaman North was addressing about 250 poultry farmers and dealers in the Sunyani Municipality at a sensitisation forum on the disease in Sunyani. The forum was jointly organised by the MOFA and the Department of Veterinary Services. Ms. Nyamekye advised particularly the media to crosscheck information hey receive about the disease before disseminating it to avoid exposing the general public to unnecessary dangers.

The MP expressed government appreciation to farmers for their intense contribution to national development. She explained that even though the disease had not been detected in the country as yet, there was the need to provide adequate information about it to enable the public, especially poultry farmers, to report any unusual symptoms on their birds to appropriate quarters.

Ms. Nyamekye said government had set up a task force comprising the Ministries of Trade and Industry and Health, Lands Commission and Wildlife Societies, to monitor and check the likelihood of the outbreak of the disease. Dr. Mathias Kojo Ayensu, Regional Veterinary Officer said the government had committed funds at the national, regional and district levels to create awareness among the general public as regards the symptoms and control measures to put in place in the event of the outbreak of the disease in the country.

"With the proliferation of FM radio stations, series of sensitisation programmes are currently being pursued", he added. Dr. Ayensu said the poultry industry offered employment to the majority of the youth and warned that if the industry collapsed it would compel the youth to undertake undesirable ventures, which might be detrimental to the nation's development.

Dr. Kwame Oppong-Anane, Director of Animal Production of MOFA thanked veterinary officers for the persistent discussions with poultry farmers on the bird flu disease since it was detected in neighbouring Nigeria. He advised poultry farmers to prevent contacts between local and foreign birds and urged them to clean their hands with soap after feeding their birds. Mrs. Evelyn Opare, Municipal Director of MOFA mentioned depression, twisted necks and high intake of water as some symptoms of affected birds and advised poultry farmers to report such cases to either MOFA or veterinary services.

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