Parliament has approved an amount of GH¢11,035,610.00 million from the Contingency Fund to support the Ministry of Agriculture’s emergency plan to combat the outbreak of the Avian Influenza (bird flu) in the country.


The amount is expected to be used to purchase reagents for detection of the disease, sample test at the World Health Animal Organisation and FAO laboratories.


Part of the amount will also be used to undertake activities such as the movement of surveillance teams to poultry farms and wild bird sanctuaries nationwide to assess possible occurrence of the disease.


Chairman of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Mr Gabriel Essilfie, MP for Shama, who moved the motion for the adoption of a report of the committee on the outbreak of the disease indicated that, “Sampling analysis materials such as rapid antigen detection kits and other essential reagents, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and other molecular diagnosis consumables,” would be purchased for the combating of the disease.


He indicated that as part of efforts by the Ministry to increase awareness and ensure prompt reporting of suspected outbreaks and enforcement of on-farm biosecurity systems, educational seminars would be held for key stakeholders such as farmers, bird market traders, as well as processors.


“Educational and awareness creation posters and flyers will also be developed. Media interactions will be intensified. A total amount of GH¢1.2 million has been estimated for the activities under this sub-component,” he said.


He said  the committee noted losses to framers in term of revenue amounted to over one million Ghana cedis, adding that the impact of the outbreak was not just limited to the expected losses to farmers but more importantly, the potential loss of human lives from the transmission of the disease to humans.


He explained that the outbreak of the disease would negativity the estimated target to reduce poultry imports by 38.9 per cent representing about US$132 million if not addressed on time.


He said the committee noted that a provision of GH¢2,000,610 had been made as compensation to farmers, whose farms where destroyed, adding that the amount represented estimated compensation of about 7500 birds and other poultry products.


Deputy Ministry of Agriculture, Hannah Bissiw, who was in the House during the approval of the amount justified the request for the purchase of 20 pickup vehicles instead 12 proposed by the committee.


“…We need vehicles to be able to move around,” she said and noted that the agriculture ministry was not taking advantage of the situation just to purchase vehicles.


She pointed out that the ministry did not want to wait for the entire poultry industry to be wiped out, or for the disease to be transmitted to human beings before taking drastic decisions.


“What I just want to plead is that we do have an emergency at hand. Probably because it is the birds that are dying today that is why we do not see the seriousness of the issue. We do not want to get massive infections in human beings before we act,” she said.


The approval of the amount is in accordance with Article 177 (1) of the 1992 Constitution which states that “there shall be paid into the Contingency Fund moneys voted for the purpose by Parliament, and advances may be made from the fund which are authorized by the committee responsible for financial measures in Parliament whenever the committee is satisfied that there has arisen an urgent or unforeseen need.”


Source : ISD (Gilbert Ankrah & Raymond Kwofei)

Created: 17 July 2015
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