Bird flu anxiety presses prices in southern Vietnam

By Quang Thuan – Phan Hau, Thanh Nien News

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Bird flu news has dragged down poultry prices in southern Vietnam. Photo by Diep Duc Minh 
Dealers have used the bird flu excuse to push poultry prices at southern Vietnam farms down by up to 40 percent.
Chicken prices have dropped by 32 percent to VND27,000 (US$1.28) a kilo and their eggs to VND600-900 apiece, down 31-40 percent from early February.
Nguyen Ngoc Kha, a farmer from Dong Nai Province outside Ho Chi Minh City, said he just sold more than 70,000 eggs to dealers at a loss of VND450-500 each.
The farmers said the dealers and several egg retailers told them that the ongoing bird flu has scared people off, dragging consumer prices to deep low.
Farmer Nguyen Van Ngoc in the same province said farmers are losing VND10,000-12,000 a kilo with current prices.
“The business has largely slowed down since the bird flu news.”
Ngoc said many could not even find customers at losing prices and are seeing escalating stocks.
Hai, a farmer from the Mekong Delta’s Long An Province, said she doesn’t know who to sell to other than those familiar customers anyway, so she has to accept any prices with whatever excuses they give.
Egg prices falling below VND1,000 have put her business VND12 million in the red.
The owner of more than 60,000 eggs said she bought the chickens at VND150,000 each but now can only sell them alive for less than half.
Phan Xuan Thao, head of Ho Chi Minh City Animal Health Department, told a Tuesday meeting with counterparts from nearby provinces that the localities need to issue regular reports on the disease situation in their area and provide lists of safe farms to protect farmers.
The agriculture ministry said in a statement Tuesday that 67 bird flu outbreaks due to the H5N1 virus strain have been detected in 21 cities and provinces, killing more than 63,000 fowls. An average of two new outbreaks have occurred every day since early February.
But many localities have delayed announcing outbreaks in their area, or did not do so at all, which troubled the control and prevention of the spread of the disease, it said.
According to Health Ministry regulations, a city/province can declare the end of a bird flu epidemic if no infections are detected 21 days after the last outbreak was announced.
H5N1 has killed three people in the country this year, including Huynh Thanh Tuan, 30, of Nha Trang, a 52-year-old man from Binh Phuoc Province and a 60-year-old woman from Dong Thap Province, both in the south.
The strain has been ravaging Vietnam since 2003 and has claimed 65 lives so far, one of the highest fatality rates in the world, according to the WHO.
Globally, there have been 649 human infections since it re-emerged in 2003, with 385 of them fatal.
Vietnam has been successfully in using Tamiflu to vaccinate livestock and treat infected people.
Health and agriculture officials have been warning communities about the threat from the new bird flu virus strain H7N9, which was first detected in humans in China last March and had killed 116 people out of 365 infections there as of Tuesday.

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