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Home >> Business
UPDATED: 08:22, March 28, 2007
Bird flu pushes Bangladesh's poultry industry into uncertainty
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Bird flu pushes Bangladesh poultry industry into the brink of collapse as it will hit hard the export potentials of the poultry products.

The avian influenza virus was first detected in a poultry farm in Savar, 25 km west of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, which a safe home for thousands of guest birds, who flew in here to flee freezing cold at their home country with the approach of winter.

According to an official press release, Adviser for Health and Family Welfare Major General (retired) ASM Matiur Rahman and Adviser of Fisheries and livestock CS Karim informed a meeting of the Advisory Council of the interim government of Bangladesh on March 22 that "Avian Influenza virus has been detected in a poultry farm in Savar".

Samples were sent on an urgent basis to the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute and also to the National Institute of Animal Health in Thailand for confirmation.

"The results showed the existence of influenza virus of H5N1 variety," the meeting was told..

The sample, which was sent to Thailand, was tested positive of bird flu, the Independent newspaper said on Tuesday, quoting an unnamed senior official of the livestock department.

Earlier, Bangladesh experts expressed their fear that bird flu might attack Bangladesh and guest birds will carry the virus from other countries. It could not be yet detected whether guest birds were responsible for spread of bird flu in Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, the Bangladeshi government has taken a number of " preemptive and proactive actions to eliminate any possibility of its further proliferation to other places."

But the avian influenza was detected in two poultry farms in northern Jamalpur district, 185 km from Dhaka, on Monday and thousands of poultry birds of the farms were culled on Monday. It is difficult to get the exact figure of poultry culling, but it would be over 50,000 so far.

Leaders of World Poultry Science Association Bangladesh Chapter (WPSA-BC) said the latest outbreak of the bird flu virus will cause a severe loss to the farmers as it will destroy the export potentials of the poultry products.

"A few poultry growers had recently started exporting poultry products to some Middle East countries, north eastern region of India and Nepal, and the present outbreak will hit hard this effort," said WPSA/BC Secretary General MA Saleque.

Cashing on Bangladesh's reputation for remaining free from the bird flu, a few entrepreneurs started entering some new poultry markets, which even include Europe, he added.

A high official of BRAC, a pioneer NGO, said different microcredit providers injected credit to the industry. These people may face recovery crisis in the wake of the recent invasion of bird flu in Bangladesh.

WPSA-BC President Mashiur Rahman said the outbreak will suddenly stall the booming poultry sector involving directly around 10 million people.

Mashiur expressed satisfaction over the government's readiness to face the challenge, adding that the whole poultry industry will also face up to the challenge.

An agricultural expert said Bangladesh has a poultry industry worth 857 million U.S. dollars.

After detection of virus and culling of thousands of poultry birds, the Bangladeshi government came in aid of the farmers, saying the government would compensate the farmers for their loss and the government will arrange credit to the farmers to rehabilitate them later.

The European Union (EU) has also extended the helping hand to the Bangladeshi government and said the EU would give all cooperation to fight virus and rehabilitate the farmers.

Last year and the year before. the Bangladeshi government had banned import of chicks from many countries, including neighboring India and Myanmar and other affected countries by the virus, but ultimately all its efforts went in vain.

Sales of broiler chicken and eggs dropped by almost half in the capital's kitchen markets due to the bird flu panic among the people, retailers and wholesalers have said.

They said customers fear to buy broilers and eggs though prices have come down by more than 30 percent.

"Egg and chicken sales went down by over 50 per cent," said Bangladesh Poultry Industries Association Vice President Shah Habibul Haque. It was noticed dull business related to chicken and eggs in different kitchen markets, fast food shops and restaurants in the capital Dhaka.

Source: Xinhua

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