Home Farming, No Compensation to Blame for H5N1 Rate

Cambodia has been the country regionally worst affected by bird flu in humans this year—with 23 cases compared to just two in Vietnam and none in Thailand—largely due to the difference in poultry farming, an official with the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Tuesday. … However, policies that were used to stop the disease from spreading in Vietnam and Thailand cannot be copied in Cambodia as the neighboring countries’ poultry is mostly held on commercial farms, making it easier to conduct large-scale culls, said Lotfi Allal, team leader of FAO’s emergency center for transboundary animal disease. … The Cambodian government also does not provide compensation for farmers whose poultry needs to be killed, which many experts say provides a disincentive to report sick birds. Vietnam, however, does have a compensation program in place. … Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture’s animal health department is only able to trace the virus’ origin after cases in humans are reported, said Mr. Allal, who advises the animal health department. … Before Chinese New Year next year, Mr. Allal said, the government plans to start a pilot project in several villages in Kampot and Takeo provinces where farmers reporting sick and dead chickens will be compensated with new animals if their poultry has to be culled.

Denise Hruby