Poultry industry in Egypt struggling by avian flu pressure
The Egyptian poultry industry fears it will suffer from government efforts to prevent the spread of the avian flu. Many worry new strict regulations and rules will force them out of the already problematic market.
With the advent of the winter season, threats of avian flu have resurfaced in Egypt. Earlier this month, the Egyptian Ministry of Health announced the death of a 30-year-old woman from Gharbiya governorate as a result of infection by the H5N1 avian influenza.
The H5N1 strain of avian flu, appeared in Egypt in February 2006, and the poultry industry has been in a critical situation ever since as the government pursues its efforts to eradicate the disease.
In a bid to prevent the spread of bird flu this winter, Cairo Governor Abdel-Azim Wazir announced last month the closure of all Cairo’s chicken slaughterhouses. Abdel-Aziz El-Sayed, head of the Poultry Division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, said producers expressed surprise at the governor’s decision, which stated that dealing and selling live poultry was banned in Egypt.
The main aim of the ban, in place since May 2009, is to combat the spread of the highly contagious flu.
Under the new law, only licensed slaughterhouses with a resident veterinarian, inspecting the whole production process, are allowed to handle live poultry. “If we are licensed to do so, why should our slaughterhouses be closed?” El-Sayed asked, adding that the closure of slaughterhouses means that about 2,500 to 3,000 employees would be laid off.
“I can’t see any reason for the closure as long as the slaughterhouses meet all the government’s conditions,” says El-Sayed. Salama Shalsh, another member of the Poultry Division, agrees, adding that no poultry could enter slaughterhouses without permission from the Directorate of Veterinary Medicine which ensures that the poultry are not infected by bird flu or any other virus.
Egypt’s poultry industry has faced many challenges in the years since bird flu appeared in February 2006, as the problem was not handled correctly, resulting in its spread. According to El-Sayed, this was due to random treatment, unregulated actions, a lack of compliance to the law and regulations, and a lack of experience in dealing with such threats. “The poultry industry lost two to three million pounds in 2006. However, losses then decreased in the following years as the industry then learned how to deal with the problem,” says El-Sayed, adding that current poultry production is low, as domestic demand decreased recently because of Eid Al-Adha, for which people prefer buying meat. This resulted in a decrease in the prices of poultry.
Source: Ahram Online