EghtesadOnline: Some 100 million egg-laying hens have been infected with the deadly avian flu in Iran and so far 1.20 trillion rials ($27.75 million) have been paid to chicken farmers over their losses, the deputy head at the Agricultural Crops Insurance Fund said.
Speaking to Mehr News Agency, Ebrahim Hassan-Nejad added that the amount pertains to units that suffered losses due to the outbreak prior to the Iranian month of Mehr (started Sept. 23) and the money for units affected after Mehr has not been paid yet.
According to Hassan-Nejad, plans have been made to pay a further 800 billion rials ($18.50 million) in compensation to chicken farmers.
He added that First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri has promised that chicken farmers’ loss be paid in cash at most within the next two weeks, Financial Tribune reported.
> Broiler Chickens Unharmed by Avian Flu
While egg-laying hens have been infected by the virus, broiler chickens are not affected, the head of Broiler Breeders Union said.
“Broiler chickens are different from egg-laying ones in that they are sent to slaughterhouses within 50 days from hatching, but egg-laying hens live at least for 80 weeks and are bred for 36 months. Egg-laying chickens have weaker bodies because they lay eggs continuously and are prone to diseases,” Mohammad Yousefi was also quoted as saying by ILNA on Friday.
Commenting on broiler chicken prices, he noted that broiler chicken meat is offered at 47,000 rials ($1.08) in chicken farms, at 64,000 rials ($1.4) in slaughterhouses and at 67,500 rials ($1.5) in the market, which indicates a slight decrease from the 70,000 rials ($1.6) prior to the outbreak.
Iranian poultry farms are hit by avian flu every year around this time. The H5N8 strain of bird flu infecting Iranian farms is deadly for poultry, but according to World Health Organization, although human infection with the virus cannot be excluded, the likelihood is low.
Last year, it was first detected in November and in March, it was reported that the virus had spread across 24 Iranian provinces, which led to the culling of some 12 million chicken.
Nasser Nabipour, chairman of the board of directors at Tehran’s Union of Producers of Egg-Laying Chicken, has said the outbreak forced the cull of some 17 million chickens across the country, leading to a decline in supply, a drastic rise in egg prices and a market imbalance, Mehr News Agency reported.
The outbreak is said to have inflicted losses worth over 20 trillion rials (more than $477 million) on production units so far.
According to Ali-Safar Makanali, an official with Iran's Veterinary Organization, 10 million egg-laying hens have replaced the infected and culled ones so far.
> Threat to Humans
Makanali expressed concern that a certain strain of the avian flu might be transferrable to humans, too.
“There is nothing to worry about H1N5 and H1N8 stains of the virus and there has been no report of any threat to humans so far but that does not mean the H1N1 strain of the avian flu, which is common in birds and humans, cannot be a threat,” he told IRNA.
According to Makanali, if this strain infects the country, humans too will be in danger.
Earlier, the secretary-general of Iran’s Union of Producers of Egg-Laying Hen said the deadly avian flu infecting chickens across the country cannot be passed on to humans, according to World Health Organization, and consumers need not worry about egg and chicken consumption.
“The acute avian flu, including strains of H1N5 and H1N8, cannot be transmitted to humans unless one is in direct contact with the carcass of infected chicken or their droppings,” Farzad Talakesh was quoted as saying by IRNA.
> Egg Prices Dip
Egg prices have decreased by around 20,000 rials ($0.4) in the last three days and each kilogram of egg is sold at 53,000 rials ($1.2) in chicken farms, Nabipour said.
According to the official, the decrease in prices, which is rooted in imports, has increased egg supply in the market.
In order to create market balance, the Ministry of Agriculture has issued permits for the import of 20,000 tons of eggs at a reduced tariff of 5% (from the regular 55%) until the end of the current Iranian year (March 20), ILNA reported.
According to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, 116 tons of eggs worth $169,000 were imported last week.