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Nov 9, 2022

Poultry Association Looks Back at Depopulation Exercise With Regret

Several poultry farmers lost tens of thousands of dollars over what turned out to be just an Avian Influenza scare. Back in September, after increasing suspicions that the virus was spreading in farms in northern Belize, drastic actions were taken to depopulate those farms. Well, a test sent to the National Veterinary Service Lab in the United States Department of Agriculture has returned negative for the virus, confirming that Avian Influenza was never present at those depopulated farms. But, the damage is done and the industry is now looking back with much regret. Today, we spoke with Armando Cowo, Manager of the Belize Poultry Association. He says the decisions taken at the time have caused a great deal of hurt and loss.


Armando Cowo

Armando Cowo, Manager, Belize Poultry Association

“Unfortunately yes the farmers had some loses. One farmer lost twenty-four thousand one hundred birds, the other farmer lost four thousand birds, and the smallest farmers lost two thousand two hundred and forty layer birds. So, yes there are some loses and those losses exceed a hundred thousand dollars, the cost of the bird and feed. Did we make an error? No. What we did was go on the precautionary side. We brainstormed the entire stake holder and BAHA and the Ministry of Agriculture and we took the route that needed to be taken. Again you don’t know if it is there or not there until you have confirmation. Unfortunately the confirmation took a little long. What it has created is hurt, not anger. Let’s face it, you as a farmer, it yourself in the shoes of a farmer and say ok, can I afford to lose let’s say ease of reference, twenty thousand birds valued at four dollars, that is eighty thousand dollars. How would you feel? It is not a loss that anybody can sustain and it hurts. No anger, it hurts. We have to try see how best we help these people get back on their feet and move on. It is not written in stone, the law says the minister may help. But, I mean if we can get something. Let’s say for example they decide to give us twenty-five or fifty percent, then we just need to find the other fifty percent to help the farmer. Every dollar counts. If you are short of ten dollars and someone gives you a dollar you only need nine dollars. I wouldn’t say that the move was too fast. We could have waited a little bit yes. There was things that could have been done which have been done, but we didn’t have to go to the draconian lengths that we went.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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