Poultry farmers say AI outbreak was a marketing stunt

08-12-2006 | |

Poultry farmers in Ivory Coast say that the recent bird flu outbreaks in the country were fabricated by the government, which aimed to slow down local production and cash in on more expensive imported poultry products in advance of the upcoming Christian and Muslim holidays.

Poultry breeders say the first they heard of the outbreaks was in the media.
“Health authorities arrived here and all of the poultry farmers expressed our unhappiness. It strongly resembles a plot to slow down our production,” said Ibrahim Bakayoko, an Abatta poultry farmer.
The government recently reduced the import tax on poultry by 50 percent to help meet demand for upcoming Christian, Muslim and New Year holidays.
“We are against this decision. The government doesn’t want to boost our income. They want to kill the poultry network,” said Jean-Marie Aka, president of an Ivorian network of poultry producers known as Ipravi.
The central veterinary laboratory in Bingerville identified two cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu last month in two turkeys in Abatta. They were the first reported cases of bird flu in Ivory Coast since April.
Dr Bian Tano, programme officer with the World Health Organisation (WHO), said that 76 unspecified poultry had been culled on the farm where the recent cases of bird flu were reported and general surveillance measures were undertaken to prevent the disease from spreading to neighbouring farms.
Abatta residents say further measures should be taken to find the origins of the most recently infected poultry. They believe the turkeys were contaminated elsewhere.
“Nobody here raises turkeys,” Bakayoko said. “We ask ourselves how they could come from here.”
Poultry producers have threatened to disrupt the poultry market if their grievances are not taken into account. For many of them, poultry production is their only source of revenue.

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