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Farmers Lose Thousands of Dollars in Culling

More than 60 families in Takeo province say they lost tens of thousands of dollars after their poultry was culled this week to prevent the spread of avian influenza.

Health and agriculture authorities culled more than 2,000 ducks and chickens in Koh Andeth district, following the deaths of as many as 15,000 more birds earlier in a suspected bird flu outbreak.

The outbreak centered around Pralay Meas village, Rominh commune, near the Vietnam border, where authorities have focused efforts to destroy birds that may have been infected with the H5N1 virus through contact with wild birds.

May Seng, second deputy chief of the commune, told VOA Khmer Thursday that 62 families lost their poultry, mostly ducks. The value of each duck was around $3, making a total loss of $51,000 in bird deaths.

“The outbreak of the H5N1 virus seriously destroyed our farmers’ livings,” he said.

Chhim Yorn, 45, who raises ducks in Pralay Meas village said, he would face increased poverty following the culling.

“I have no money to return to the bank a pay the interest of a loan,” he said. “I borrowed $3,000 from the bank to raise ducks. Now I have nothing. My house will be confiscated by the bank.”

Currently the government has no policy to compensate farmers for the loss of poultry in bird flu culling

“We need assistance from the government and non-governmental organizations to continue our business after we lost all in the bird flu outbreak,” said Vy Oun, a 30-year-old poultry farmer. “I lost $1,750 because my ducks died from bird flu.”

Despite the importance of poultry farms to the area, Kao Phal, head of the Ministry of Agriculture’s veterinary department, said farmers will not be allowed to raise birds for another 30 days, as authorities watch for signs of a return of the disease.

“We are watching this virus, and we have banned transportation of ducks or chickens from the affected area,” he said.

Avian influenza has killed seven Cambodians since 2005 and more than 200 people in Asia since an outbreak began in 2003.