Small farmers hurt by bird flu measures

Nov 30, 2007 (DVB), Village farmers from Kengtung township have complained that government measures to combat bird flu in the community have unfairly targeted smaller chicken farms.

Following "unusual deaths" of local species of chickens and ducks in Naungngin village in Kengtung township, Shan State, investigations were carried out and the H5N1 virus was found to be present, according to state media.

The Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department of the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries issued a public warning in the state-run New Light of Myanmar giving details of the outbreak and advising the public how to help prevent its spread.

The LBVD claimed that 14,889 chickens, ducks and geese had been culled, and said that this had been supplemented with bio-security measures and educational talks in the affected area and surrounding villages.

However, farmers from the villages have criticised the measures taken by the government to prevent the disease from spreading, claiming that only chickens on small farms in the village areas were killed, while the nine big chicken firms in the town were not affected by the cull.

The owner of a small chicken farm in a nearby village said that the LBVD had taken all his chickens despite his village being so far unaffected.

"They came and took all my chickens, but I didn't get any compensation or anything for it. I heard that chickens in other villages have died form the bird flu disease but our village hasn't been affected yet," he said.

One chicken farm owner from the town said that there were some limited measures affecting the nine big companies.

"They only call upon the 9 big companies to go to disease controlling workshops, but didn't do much else except spraying insecticide on their big farms," he said.

"They told those chicken farm owners to stop selling chickens, eggs and ducks and told them to keep their birds healthy."

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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