H5N1 flu response devastates small poultry farms

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    Martin W

      Another thread here – on farms, biosecurity and wild birds – includes some info re impact of responses to H5N1 on small farmers: major transition towards factory farms. Includes a report from sustainable farming organisation Grain, which has just released a new report, press release on which is:

      RURAL POOR DEVASTATED BY TOP-DOWN GLOBAL RESPONSE TO BIRD FLU The top-down global response to bird flu is devastating small farmers and perpetuating the bird flu crisis.

      A new report from GRAIN [1] looks at the power politics behind this global response and its consequences for the poor. This report, building on a previous GRAIN report on bird flu from February 2006 [2], finds that the agencies of the UN at the forefront of the international response to the virus, both WHO and FAO, are pursuing top-down strategies for wiping out bird flu that in turn are wiping out the foundations for long term, pro-poor solutions in the process. The report highlights how the FAO has turned its back on family poultry farming and contrasts the WHO's lack of concern for the impact of its bird flu measures on small farmers.

      The global approach to control bird flu co-ordinated by these UN agencies excludes local communities from decision-making and does not consider the dynamics of the disease in local contexts. There's no nuance, no understanding of people's needs and, worst of all, no appreciation of the capacity and knowledge that farmers have for managing this virus. The strategies are being diligently carried out by governments, many of them neglectful if not hostile towards small farmers and the poultry biodiversity they sustain, with disastrous consequences for rural people.

      The report maintains that the solution being proposed – a complete shift to factory farming – merely brings us back to the source of the current bird flu crisis===========================================================

      NOTES: [1] The top-down global response to bird flu Against the grain, April 2006, [2] GRAIN, 2006, Fowl play: The poultry industry's central role in the bird flu crisis

      February 2006, We have also compiled a bird flu resource page with relevant publications, articles and links – visit  Abbreviations: UN – United Nations, WHO – World Health Organisation, FAO – Food and Agriculture Organisation

      Martin W
        Mumbai – Nine poultry farmers in India have killed themselves and more are facing a grim future after bird flu slashed demand for chicken meat, an industry group said on Wednesday.

        India has culled hundreds of thousands of birds to contain several outbreaks of the H5N1 avian flu virus in poultry since February, but the disease has continued to resurface, mostly in western Maharashtra state.

        The scare has decimated the country’s $7,8-billion (about R48-billion) poultry industry, which says losses in the past two months have reached $2,2-billion (about R13,5-billion).

        “Nine farmers across India have committed suicide after their businesses suffered huge losses,” OP Singh, member of the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC), told Reuters.

        ‘Sales are down by half’
        The suicides have been reported during the past 15 days from West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, the latter state being the epicentre of bird flu outbreaks in the country.

        The committee said there were 123 000 poultry farmers in India and about 70 percent of them were in a “dire situation”.

        “Most small poultry owners start their business by selling off land and jewellery. And when they can’t recover their costs, they are left with no choice,” Singh said.

        Nine farmers commit suicide in flu-hit India

        Martin W

          Note that Fear of the Flu is major cause of the losses; people not buying chickens, after all the fearmongering

          Sunday, April 16, 2006 (Pataudi): In the aftermath of bird flu, as the poultry industry faces huge losses, it’s the small poultry farmers who have been the worst hit. Over a million farmers across the country have virtually lost their livelihood and have found desperate measures to tide over the crisis as they wait for the government to intervene. Deep in debt, poultry farmer Naresh’s future looks empty. He says he is on the brink of suicide. His small poultry farm in Haryana’s poultry belt, Pataudi, is left without chicken. Before the Avian Flu outbreak little less than two months ago, small farms were bustling with 3,000 to 5,000 chickens. But a few days into the outbreak, chicken prices crashed and Naresh was forced to sell his chicken at a throwaway price. Now, no feed supplier is ready to sell the small poultry farmer chicken feed on credit.

          No feed means no chicken and no source of income. “I have lost 2,000 chickens and Rs 60,000. We could not repay the feed mill owner’s credit, who can’t give any feed now, and our farm is empty,” said Naresh. Financial package For farmers like Rajesh, no money means no school for his children. With no income he says even relatives are not ready to give him loans for daily needs. "I have three kids, no money for fees, and had to withdraw my son from school, even relatives are not giving us any credit,” said Rajesh. The small farmer is in a real crisis. He says that the government’s financial package has no meaning for him. He says he needs the consumer to restart eating poultry products. The government’s financial package involves reduced interest on bank loans, but 1.1 million small farmers across the country do not take loans. Their business runs purely on credit from the feed supplier and the supplier of chicks.

          The feed suppliers say farmers are in no position to repay their credit as sales have dropped, a story that’s echoing in poultry farms in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh as well. “We might have to close the mill this way. There is no one to sell to and so we have not even applied for a loan if the farmer can’t buy it," said Vishal Singh, Feed Mill Owner, Pataudi. Breeder farms The NDTV team also met desperate poultry farmers from Rajasthan who bought feed in return for grain worth Rs 50,000 that will last only a week. "We have no money now, so the grain we grow, we are selling that. We don’t know where this rumour of avian flu came from, we have been destroyed,” said Hakim Singh, another poultry farmer in Rajasthan.

          The crisis also trickles down to breeder farms where chickens are reared to provide eggs for hatcheries. The breeder chickens represent the start of the poultry production chain. The poultry farmer cannot afford to buy them, so they have not been fed and hence they don’t lay eggs. For the last seven weeks, the chicken have been fed only five gms of feed instead of the usual 170 gms per day, so that it stops laying eggs. The breeder farmers face losses of Rs 1,80,000 per day as even big hatcheries are no longer buying eggs. With the whole system of credit collapsing, small farmers are now looking towards the government to bail them out. However, the biggest challenge for the poultry industry and the government still remains the consumer, who can make all the difference if they decide eating chicken is safe once again.

          Bird Flu: Small poultry farmers severely hit

          Martin W
            HANOI (AFP) – More than 20 international animal and human health experts are visiting Vietnam this week to help the country move from its bird flu emergency response to long-term control, a UN official said. "The thing Vietnam is pushing for is restructuring its poultry sector, moving live bird markets out of cities, building new facilities and slaughter houses," Fabio Friscia of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Tuesday. .. Around eight million Vietnamese now raise poultry in backyard farms, where the risk of outbreaks is highest, said Friscia, who added that the country plans to reduce the number of such informal farms to five million within a decade. "There is concern for the future of poor backyard farmers and small commercial farmers," said Friscia, the FAO’s bird flu programme officer in Vietnam. "A lot of them will have to leave the sector with significant economic losses. The challenge is to provide these people with alternative livelihood opportunities."

            Bird flu experts in Vietnam to aid long-term control

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