Bird flu scare: Oman bans poultry import from Chandigarh

Muscat - 

Following reports of Avian Influenza virus outbreak in north India, particularly Chandigarh, Oman has imposed a ban on import of poultry products including eggs from that region.

The ban, however, is not likely to affect poultry imports from India as a whole as those from other regions will continue.

The Ministerial Decision to ban the import of poultry from Chandigarh was issued by H E Dr Fuad bin Jaafar bin Mohammed al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on February 25.

The ban comes after the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) confirmed the spread of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza virus in Chandigarh late December last year. The spread had triggered alarm bells in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana, as it was reported that several samples taken from dozens of domestic geese that died in Chandigarh’s Sukhna lake had tested positive for the dreaded avian flu. Punjab is one of the biggest suppliers of chicken and poultry products to many parts of north India.

The Sukhna lake, a tourist attraction, was closed for a month and reopened on January 19, but the lake precinct itself remains out of bounds for visitors. Boating or other recreational sports are closed since migratory birds nest in the lake area during winters and the threat of bird flu remains high.

The imports to Oman though will not be hampered, said Prashant Desai, commercial manager of Al Hamadi Trading & Contracting. “In Oman, we generally import eggs from Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, which is the largest egg producing region of the country [India]. Additionally, we have reduced imports from India as those from countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia have increased apart from continuous and robust local production.”

For poultry meat the company relies on imports from Brazil, France, Ukraine, India and the US.

The ban on import from one region will not hurt trade as a whole from India as it was in 2012 when Oman had introduced a new concept of 'zoning and compartmentalisation' for purposes of disease control and international trade, mentioned in chapter No 4.3 of OIE's Terrestrial Animal Health Code (TAHC).

Under the new rule, a flu outbreak in one zone means restriction on trade from that zone alone and not a blanket ban on the whole country, as was the case before 2012 when a flu outbreak in any part of India meant a complete ban on imports to Oman from the country.

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