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No case of bird flu detected in country: official

posted on 27/05/2006: 1458 views

No single case of bird flu has so far been detected in 19 major poultry farms and other 25 small farms, a top industry official has confirmed. In a report published by Khaleej Times, Sheikh Hamed bin Butti Al Khadem, Chairman of the Emirates Poultry Producers Association (Eppa) revealed that the government was subsidising the poultry producers to help them survive a crisis of low demand for their products after the outbreak of the bird flu in many countries of the world.

"The government has given instructions to public departments to reduce charges levied on poultry farms as an indirect support for the one billion dirham-sector to overcome the current crisis," Sheikh Hamed said, adding that the Abu Dhabi Municipality had already trimmed that charges and the Labour Ministry was expected to follow suit with regard to fees of labour transaction for farm workers.

Asked about dumping the UAE market with Saudi and Omani poultry products, Sheikh Hamed said: "This problem has been handled by the authorities concerned in the GCC," he said, emphasising that the UAE is an a free, open market and in addition to the fact that local poultry production can satisfy local demand, although farms are producing 85 per cent of their total output capacity because of import from abroad.

Striking the same tone, Dr Hussein Husseinein, Association Technical Secretary noted that over-supply in Saudi and Omani markets were the main reason behind the low price of their products. "It is no surprise these products are sold with less price in the local market here," he explained.

Fodder used in poultry farms forms 70 per cent of the total cost of production and this is why the price of frozen chicken like that imported from Brazil is low. The two top officials of the association made their remarks during a tour organised on Wednesday by the Environmental Agency, Abu Dhabi (EAD) in conjunction with the Association for the Mediamen to the Abu Dhabi Poultry Farm at Suweihan in Abu Dhabi under the instructions of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, EAD Chairman.

Sheikh Hamed said local production of fresh chickens rose to 40,000 tonnes in 2004 from 20,000 in 1993 and eggs output also jumped to 400 million from 100 million. Annual production of fresh chickens, table eggs and fodder were estimated at Dh400 million.

Meanwhile, EAD Secretary-General Majed Al Mansouri, affirmed that the government would announce any case of bird flu if it happened in the country. "This is an official commitment on the part of the government," he underlined. He pointed to the transparency from all authorities concerned as there was no country immune from infection.

The UAE, he maintained, has from the beginning dealt with the bird flu as an epidemic disease. "The emergency action plan for response to bird flu outbreak has reached an advanced stage. We have even secured incinerators," he disclosed.

Al Mansouri appealed to nationals to have confidence in the government bodies and not to dramatise and aggravate the matter, especially as the focus now is on fears of mutation of the virus to human beings.

He added that the National Bird Flu Emergency Action Plan also took care of the local poultry industry with regard to strict supervision and control on farms and distribution outlets. He said that a register and stocktaking were made, including the number of farms, number and species of birds (even imported ones) and manpower. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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