Review of protocols on handling bird flu urged
The United Broilers Raisers Association has called on government agencies to review current protocols on handling bird flu cases in the wake of the recent bout with an avian influenza outbreak in three towns in central Luzon.
In a briefing yesterday, Ubra President Elias Jose Inciong said the lack of a communications plan among government agencies including the Department of Agriculture had made it difficult for the poultry industry to cope with the losses incurred following the outbreak.
“There’s the absence of a coherent communications plan, that’s why the public was misinformed of the dangers of the virus,” he said.
For example, consumers were gripped by fear that the avian flu can be easily transmitted to humans. On the contrary, such cases of transmission are rare, Inciong said.
As a result of the misinformation about the effects of the bird flu, farm-gate prices of chicken declined by more than half as demand plunged. Consumers had been reluctant to buy poultry products for fear of contamination.
“There should be a better way of communicating with the consuming public, and not only with the DA but also other agencies involved like the DOH (Department of Health). It is important to explain the nature of the disease and the protocols that needed to be done,” he added.
For its part, the DA plans to inspect farms nationwide and more strictly enforce biosecurity measures to help prevent an outbreak. Owners and operators who will fail to report any abnormal mortality rate in their farms will also be penalized.
But for Philippine Egg Board Association President Irwin Ambal, no kind of legislation can force farmers to comply with the directives, unless the government can provide ample compensation to members of the sector.
“If the farmers can be assured that they will be well compensated, or at least they will be able to get back the cost of their production, they are willing to submit their farms to inspection,” said Ambal.
Both industry leaders suggested that government agencies hold dialogues with members of the sector, experts, and other stakeholders before they craft new legislation on the management of avian influenza cases.
According to Ambal, it would take at least four months before layer growers can recover from their losses, while broiler growers need at least 27 days.
A month since the outbreak, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has yet to quantify the losses incurred by the industry due to the bird flu cases.
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