Yemen’s poultry industry is losing roughly US $1 million a day due to the H5N1 avian flu, according to officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, who say this figure could reach as high as $5 million if the problem goes unchecked.
Even though Yemen is officially free of the disease, many citizens have abstained from eating chicken or eggs due to frenzied reports of bird-flu epidemics elsewhere in the region. People are afraid.
According to Ghalib al-Eryani, director of the government-run Animal Resources Department, his department had received numerous requests from poultry sellers for compensation for lost business.
While addressing the Consultative Council late last month, Minister of Health Abdulkareem Ras’e suggested that poultry owners be compensated with US $1 per chicken culled in the event of the bird flu’s appearance. The local poultry sector produces approximately 100 million chickens annually.
The Yemenite government had already prepared an emergency plan, say officials. “We set up an operation room last October to undertake preventive measures and prepare a national anti-bird flu plan,” said al-Eryani.
“We’re keeping a ban in place on poultry imports from countries hit by avian influenza and have also begun field serology surveillance and collected 1,781 specimens which have all tested negative.”
Al-Eryani went on to cite additional precautionary measures, such as bird-flu specific training for health workers and the establishment of vast slaughterhouses wherein birds can be culled en masse according to health standards.