Some 75,000 birds, representing $3 million in investment, was lost in the last few weeks in the poultry industry in the Cayo District after the discovery of H5N2 avian influenza in the area detected earlier this year. It is fatal if allowed to mutate to high pathogenicity but is not affective of human beings. Both birds raised for meat and those raised for eggs were destroyed in large quantities. Former president of the Poultry Association Orlando Habet discusses the way forward.
“It has affected the industry severely. In the last two weeks it has apparently been slowing down because we do not have any new flocks that have turned out positive. However, the industry has lost over three million dollars as you have mentioned and in any given situation, in Spanish Lookout alone, in a six weeks cycle, there is the potential for a loss of over six million dollars if all the birds are depopulated in a six weeks cycle. Because the Government has taken the initiative along with the industry that there will be no vaccination, at least up to now. The option that has been chosen is depopulation so that those birds do not reach the market at all, neither do the eggs.”
Habet says it is possible that Belize may have to import poultry products to make up any potential shortfall but the producers are trying to avoid this as much as possible and there are no price increases.
We can see that there is a there is a potential problem with supply, if we do not get the other producers in the north to speed up their protection, then Spanish Lookout will not be ale to supply their customers, possibly in the near future. There is the possibility of the requirement for some importation, but we are trying to move away from that as soon as possible.”
“ Will that affect the price in the medium term that people pay for pounds per poultry?”
“Up to now it hasn’t, but there is no way of telling. We have just come back from meetings in the Dominican Republic where we discussed this at large with the entire Federation of Poultry Producers of Central America anf with the Federation of Poultry Producers of Latin America; from Brazil right down to Agrentina and every where else. Wherever there have been this problem, and recently in Mexico, they have tried to stop this increase but it is a matter of supply and demand. The market forces demand or dictates where it will go.”