The Ghana Poultry Farmers Association says its members have enough birds in the country for the christmas festivities and after.
According to the association, the number of birds which were destroyed by the Veterinary Services Department of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoFA) in some farms as a result of the bird flu was just a fraction of the birds in the system.
Since the outbreak of the bird flu in the country, MoFA has destroyed 62,144 birds in Greater Accra, Ashanti and Volta regions.
Reacting to reports that there were no birds in some parts of the country for the yuletide, the President of the association, Mr Victor Oppong Adjei, said: “We have more than enough birds in the country, as those that were destroyed will not even be up to one per cent of our poultry population.”
Last Friday, the Daily Graphic carried a story which suggested there would not be enough birds in the country for Christmas.
Ban on movement
The destruction of birds, coupled with the ban on movement and hawking of poultry and poultry products in Accra, which is still in force, has affected the hawking of birds on the streets, a site which is one of the usual signs of the Xmas festivities.
Mr Adjei explained that the ban on hawking of birds on the streets was to ensure that the droppings from the birds did not transfer bird flu to people who stepped into them.
The ban, he said, was however only in Accra and did not affect the other regions.
Explaining further, he said birds and eggs could be moved from the other regions to Accra but not from Accra to the other regions.
According to Mr Adjei, consumers in Accra can only get their live chickens from the markets or farm gates and not on the streets as it used to be.
He said the association had over 3,000 members across the country and the number of farms destroyed were less than 30 and, therefore, the culling of the birds could not affect the production of poultry for the Xmas festivities.
He stated that although it was difficult to know the number of birds in the system, as well as the exact number of poultry farmers, “in Kumasi alone, the biggest poultry farm has over 300,000 birds, while others have 200,000, with those having 100,000 and below birds being in the majority.”
To know the accurate number of poultry farmers and birds in the country, Mr Adjei said the United States Department of Agriculture had started a census across the country to know the number of farmers and their birds.
He added that because of the land situation in Accra, most people had backyard poultry farms, but in Kumasi, Brong Ahafo, Eastern and some parts of the country where land was in abundance, poultry farming was done on a larger scale.
Mr Adjei, therefore, said the destruction of about 24 farms in Greater Accra, one in Ashanti and two in the Volta Region would in no way cause a shortage of birds in the system.
He said the farm in Ashanti which was destroyed had 1,900 birds, and in Greater Accra, the biggest farm that was destroyed had 28,000 birds, while the other farms had a smaller number of birds.
He maintained that the prices of birds for the festivities would not be increased, saying that at the farm gate, birds were sold for GH¢ 20 and, therefore, retail price should not go beyond GH₵25.
The President of the Mallam Market Fowls Sellers Association, Mr Isaiah Akawiba, in an interview, also confirmed that there were enough birds for the Xmas season.
According to him, the market over the last week had been slow because retailers feared that their birds would not be patronised and were, therefore, waiting to stock the market close to the yuletide festivities.
A market survey conducted by the Daily Graphic in Accra showed that in anticipation of a price hike this season, retailers of birds were not stocking the market.
The retailers were said to be hoarding the birds to cash in when the market peaks this week. Thus, the birds have virtually disappeared from the market.
From Tamale, Samuel Duodu reports that at the Tamale Central, Aboabo and Picorna markets in the central business district of the metropolis, one can only see local birds and guinea fowls on sale for the Christmas.
According to some poultry farmers, it is difficult to rear exotic birds, popularly referred to as ‘poultry chicken, ‘in the region as a result of the harsh weather conditions.
The few poultry farmers in the region who deal in the exotic birds told the Daily Graphic that they did so mainly for the hotels and restaurants that patronised them.
A poultry farmer at Pong-Tamale, Adam Usman, a graduate of the Damongo Agriculture College, said he had raised 50 local birds and 70 guinea fowls for the market and sales were picking up gradually as the peak period for the Christmas drew near.
From Koforidua, George Folley reports that contrary to fears of the outbreak of bird flu in some parts of the country, poultry farmers in Koforidua continue to make brisk business, as the patronage of birds is gradually peaking.
“What is Christmas without slaughtering live birds. This is what we have known all years so the status quo must remain”, Kofi Ansah, a mechanic, said while purchasing birds at the market.
A poultry farmer at Densuano, Mr Kwame Appiah said, he was happy that the yuletide was just around the corner, some customers had placed orders in order not to be overtaken by events.
Vincent Amenuveve reports from Bolgatanga that some poultry farmers at Bolgatanga and Kongo in the Nabdam District in the Upper East Region have begun reducing the prices of their birds to encourage consumers of chicken to buy from them.
This has become necessary because the farmers claim that following the outbreak of the bird flu in some parts of the country, the patronage of their birds had dipped this year.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Bolgatanga, a poultry farmer, Mr Nuhu Ayine, expressed regret that “this year’s Christmas sales are not good enough, since no visitor from Burkina Faso, Tamale and Techiman has come to purchase the birds as used to happen in the previous years.”
Tim Dzamboe reports that during a tour of some poultry farms in the Ho municipality, some farm managers told the Daily Graphic that although they had heard of bird flu affecting some poultry farms in the region, they had not been affected in terms of sales.
A poultry farmer at Mawuli Estate, Mr Ata Buatsi, said sales were good and so he was expecting that his stock would be exhausted before Christmas.
From Kumasi, Felix A. Baidoo reports that with a few days to the Christmas festivities, the President of the Ashanti Regional Poultry Farmers Association, Alhaji Issah Buckman, is blaming the media for the panic although there is no case of bird flu in the region.
A visit to the Anlo Market at Amakom in Kumasi revealed a high patronage of poultry and products.
Michael Quaye reports from Wa that poultry dealers in the Upper West Region may be experiencing indifferent sales in the lead up to the 2015 Christmas, but they say it enforces the economic circumstances rather than the bird flu scare that has hit parts of the country recently.
The sale of guinea fowls, fowls and other poultry birds is high but general sales have dwindled in comparison to yesteryears, but dealers doubt if the bird flu scare in southern Ghana could be a factor.
“Sales have not changed much,” Abdul Musah, who roams the Wa township with his caged guinea fowls on his head, told the Daily Graphic. “Sales have improved, but not significantly, but that has been the trend in recent times.”
From Cape Coast, Shirley Asiedu-Addo, writes, that the MOFA, directorate in the Central Region has declared chicken in the region fit for consumption.
The Regional Director of MOFA, Mr Gershin Wodzrah, said though there was a spillover outbreak of the bird flu from the Greater Accra region about five months ago, the situation had long been contained.