A piece of mischief indulged in by some FM radio stations in Dormaa Ahenkro has plunged the poultry industry in the Brong Ahafo Region into its worst crisis yet.
Broadcasting what they described as rumours, and thereby giving it currency, the FM stations stirred panic when they alluded to an outbreak of the deadly bird flu.
Internet operators subsequently gave the FM station's reports world-wide attention and the effect is a crashing blow to the poultry industry in the district.
As at now patronage of poultry products, especially eggs and live birds has come to a standstill in the district even with a crate of eggs reduced from ¢22,000 per crate to ¢15,000 and live birds (broilers) sold for ¢35,000.Customers who come from elsewhere in the country to buy are no more coming because of the reported rumour on the FM stations.
To avert an imminent collapse of the poultry industry in the district, which is said to be the largest employer after the government, about 200 poultry farmers gathered at the Dormaa District Assembly hall on Wednesday under the auspices of the assembly and the District Poultry Farmers Association, which was attended by Mrs Anna Nyamekye, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in-charge of Livestock, to find a solution to the current situation.
As a means to let commercial sellers and consumers of poultry products know that poultry products, especially eggs from the district, were safe and that there has not been any outbreak of the bird flu there, and elsewhere in the country, cooked eggs were served to all dignitaries invited to the meeting as well as all present.
In his welcoming address, Mr Kwabena Asamoa-Asare, the Dormaa District Chairman of the Poultry Farmers Association, appealed to the government through the MoFA to grant the association an emergency financial relief loans of ¢5 billion to be shared among members to remedy the consequences of the situation.
He also urged the government as a matter of urgency to consider the provision of a cold storage facility like the one at the Kumasi Food Distribution Depot for the farmers in the district to store their eggs when sales of eggs came to a standstill, as they were experiencing now.
Mr Asamoa-Asare also suggested to the government to consider mass vaccination of birds in the country before any possible outbreak of the disease in the country, instead of the mass destruction of the birds, and also appoint a member from their fold to represent them on the Poultry Board since the district could compete favourably with any region in the country as far as the poultry industry was concerned.
Responding to the issues raised, Mrs Nyamekye assured them of the readiness of the ministry to help them overcome the crisis, which had come about as a result of the false information, but said she would convey their request to the government and the ministry in Accra for prompt redress.
She reiterated that there had not been any reported case of an outbreak of bird flu in any part of the country including the Dormaa District, and therefore appealed to the media, especially presenters of FM stations across the country to be circumspect in their comments on the disease in order not to create unnecessary panic, which had the potential to collapse the country's poultry industry that would in turn have an adverse effect on the national economy.
Squadron Leader Benjamin Anane-Asamoah (retd), the Dormaa District Chief Executive (DCE), on his part called for an intensification of the public awareness to avert the harm the rumour could do to the industry in the district, and a political will from MoFA to help the farmers market their produce.
Dr A. A. Kontoh, the Dormaa District Director of Agriculture, who gave a brief history about the poultry situation in the district said a census conducted by his outfit in June last year on 189 poultry farms recorded 1,470 million birds, adding that the growth recorded was unprecedented in the annals of the industry in the country.
Story By Samuel Duodu, Dormaa Ahenkro