04 July 2008

Bad News for Chickens in Burundi

I was ready to take food waste and shortages off my mind and also not worry about Burundi today, but my Google blog searcher was not:
Burundi: Untreatable Disease Kills 1000 Chicken
"The disease has also been reported in other parts of the country but total numbers of dead chickens are not [yet] available," the director of the Animal Health Department in the Ministry of Agriculture and Stockbreeding, Pierre Bukuru, told IRIN.

"With the pandemic among the chickens, the population will face a significant lack of animal proteins and many people will suffer from the shortage, as chicken is widely raised and consumed in Burundi," he added.

Bukuru said the illness, which has similar symptoms to Newcastle Disease, was affecting the economic lives of people raising chickens or trading in meat and eggs.

"Egg production has dropped by 80 percent," he said.

He added that the meat of infected chickens did not pose a threat to human health as long as it was well-cooked.

Obviously this is not good news for Burundians. Their crops are already being destroyed by flooding rains and civil war flare-ups. It's a country that sustains itself on farming, with many families raising their own food and selling what's leftover. But if there's not even enough for themselves to eat, there's going to be very little income coming in from sales.

I asked a colleague who's been in Bujumbura for a few months now what the rising food prices are like. He said it's very hard for average Burundians but prices on staple items like sugar are still quite cheap for Americans. He said Americans there aren't worrying too much about it yet. The best we can do is to keep buying local meats and produce to keep those families in business. (We've heard the meat and fruit are spectacular and we can't wait to get over there and eat some for ourselves.)

(Image from The Poultry Site.)

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