News / South Africa

Yadhana Jadoo
2 minute read
28 Aug 2017
6:20 am

Farmers affected by bird flu to get a bit of financial assistance from state

Yadhana Jadoo

Almost a million birds have been lost to the current bird flu outbreak of H5N8 virus.

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Farmers affected by the current bird flu outbreak gripping South Africa may be assisted by the agriculture department through minor compensation to help alleviate the strain they have experienced from losses.

At least 10 commercial chicken farms, two ostrich farms, a few backyard flocks and hobby-keeping farms have been affected since the outbreak, collectively resulting in almost 1 million birds that have been culled or died from the virus.

The high pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza has affected most egg-producing farms from June, including three breed holdings.

Farms since quarantined are situated in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Western Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal, according to the South African Poultry Association’s interim CEO, Charlotte Nkuna.

“The department is doing a risk assessment regarding hatching eggs, and we will have an indication on this by the end of next week,” she said.

“With regards to compensation guidelines, they are looking at who will receive it and how it will be applied. This will be released on September 1. Farmers who have suffered losses will be have to be assisted – it doesn’t fully cover them, but provides assistance to get them back on production.”

Nkuna added that while the financial losses hadn’t yet been quantified, and with almost a million birds lost, this had definitely put strain on farmers and production lines.

“Anytime you lose birds from normal production you put a strain on production.”

Longer-living birds had been most affected, she said, adding that there was sufficient evidence to indicate the disease was being spread by wild ducks.

According to the World Health Organisation, the H5N8 strain does not affect humans as its counterpart the H6N1 virus does.

“This strain hasn’t been shown to affect people – people can still buy meat and eggs. And when a farm is quarantined, you get tracing of products to see where eggs are gone. That is because we don’t want it to spread,” Nkuna said.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana last week met with the poultry industry to find solutions to the outbreak.

“The outbreak is threatening the existence of South African poultry industry, as well as jobs,” his department said.

– yadhanaj@citizen.co.za