Health News of Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Source: GNA

Ghana declared model for fight against avian flu -Minister

Dormaa Ahenkro (B/A), July 25, GNA - Mr Ernest Akubour Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture has stated that the United Nations has declared Ghana a model for other African countries in the fight against Avian Influenza, which has threatened human lives and the survival of the poultry industry in several countries on the continent.

Interacting with members of the Dormaa Poultry Farmers Association at Dormaa Ahenkro in Brong Ahafo, Mr Debrah attributed Ghana's continued resistance to the flu to the government's pragmatic safety measures, which had led to the gradual restoration of public confidence in the consumption of poultry products.

The Minister expressed shock when Squadron Leader Benjamin Anane Asamoah (rtd), Dormaa District Chief Executive, informed him that a district task force set to monitor the ban on poultry products from La Cote d'Ivoire recently destroyed 4,326 crates of eggs believed to have been smuggled from the neighbouring country with the connivance of some poultry farmers in the District.

He reminded perpetrators of the act and poultry farmers of the wide range of human and financial repercussions associated with the flu and emphasised the importance of using all available resources to keep the flu at bay.

Mr Debrah assured the DCE and the task force of his Ministry's support in the discharge of their duties as long as they operated within the confines of their terms of reference.

Reacting to questions put to him by the farmers, the Minister announced that the government disbursed 20 billion cedis to 20,000 maize farmers last year to assuage any subsequent shortages of the crop to the poultry industry and had ended discussions with the Agricultural Development Bank to pump extra three trillion cedis into the sector this year when the flu scare subsided.

Mr Debrah explained that the two proposed poultry processing plants to be sited in Accra and Kumasi were not the initiative of government but individuals with the support of the Bank.

On the question as to why Dormaa, a leading poultry producing district should have a low representation on the National Poultry Board, the Minister explained that members to the Board were institutionalised but promised to raise the concern at a higher level for consideration. Squadron Leader Anane Asamoah appealed to the Minister to, assist the poultry farmers to restock their farms with chicks they lost during the food shortage last year.

He also proposed scouting in La Cote d'Ivoire to ascertain the veracity of the presence of the bird flu there so that the people could make informed choices on the scare.

Dr Agyemang Atuahene Kontor, Dormaa District Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, suggested to government to consider making eggs a vital part of part of the daily meal of school children when the NEPAD school feeding programme took off.

He said this would not only elevate the protein level of the children for better academic work but would also engender increase in demand for eggs, thereby leading to the creation of jobs.