Fourteen poultry farms in the Greater Accra Region have been affected by the latest bout of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and consequently been disinfected and depopulated, Acting Director of the Veterinary Services Directorate (VSD), Dr. Patrick Abakeh told selected journalists during a tour of some farms in Accra last week.
At a particular poultry farm in Teshie, an Accra suburb, the farmer had 6,000 birds which succumbed to the flu; and by the time the VSD arrived to depopulate the farm two weeks ago to avoid further spread, they only met 639 birds – which they destroyed.
To this end, the VSD and poultry sector organisations and the Deputy Minister of Food and agriculture in charge of Livestock, Alhaji Hardi Tufeiru, visited some of the affected farms and showed their concern while offering professional advice.
Dr. Abakeh said his outfit has so far visited farms in the Greater Accra, Central and Volta Regions, and thankfully the outbreak has not spread to other regions significantly. He advised the public not to panic but remain calm, since poultry meat is still safe to consume provided it is properly cooked.
He advised farmers to report any incidence to the VSD, Ministry of Agriculture or any extension officer for advice and support to help contain the spread of this highly pathogenic avian flu. VSD has strengthened its surveillance activities to contain the spread.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture-in-charge of Livestock said the farmers are mostly to blame for the recent outbreak since they do not prioritise sanitary precautions, and took the opportunity to advise farmers to regularly disinfect their farms and observe proper health guidelines.
The Deputy Minister expressed empathy for the losses incurred by farmers, and said the report will go to the appropriate quarters so that whatever assistance government can render will be extended.
The Technical Team Leader of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Ghana Poultry Project, Raymond Denteh – whose outfit provided the chemicals to for the disinfection and depopulating exercise, said his outfit has been supporting/building the local poultry sector’s capacity over the past six years.
He underscored the importance of biosecurity certification for poultry farmers, which is a requirement of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to forestall the outbreak of such diseases that have the ability to wipe out investments made in the industry.
The team visited two other farms in Nungua and Tema West that suffered the same fate, where the team depopulated the farms in preparation for re-stocking as the poultry sector is crucial to the protein requirements of Ghanaians.