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Bird flu takes toll on poultry industry

By Jin Zhu and Wang Hongyi (China Daily)

10:39, April 13, 2013

Two college students carrying a model of a capsule chase another student holding a banner reading "H7N9" during a performance at the opening ceremony of the sports meeting hosted by Chongqing University in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality on Friday. The characters on the capsule model read "H7N9 killer". (CHINA NEWS SERVICE / CHEN CHAO)

Steep losses for farmers and workers, sector is expected to shrink this year

Domestic poultry farming has already seen steep losses because of a sharp drop in market demand since the H7N9 virus outbreak began earlier this month, industry insiders said.

"At present, the company's refrigeration warehouse with a capacity of 5,000 metric tons is almost full of poultry products since few people will buy," said Zhao Binghe, an employee of a private company that processes poultry products in Chifeng, in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

The company processes an average of 30 million ducks every year, and nearly 60 percent of those poultry products are sold to markets in the Yangtze River Delta region, where the current bird flu cases are from.

The company is now losing nearly 1 million yuan ($162,000) a day, he said.

Zhao's company is not alone in suffering because of the recent H7N9 outbreak.

Hou Shuisheng, an animal nutrition professor with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said hatching has now been stopped in his breeding plant in Beijing.

His breeding plant has about 8,000 ducks, and the ducks were being sold at about 9 yuan per kilogram before the outbreak, he said.

"But now, even if I reduce the price by 50 percent, it is still hard to sell them," he said.

"I talked with many poultry farm owners in the past few days, and similar business setbacks have now spread widely to many regions in the country, including Shandong, Henan, and Hubei provinces," he said.

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