GUWAHATI, Nov 4 � The lion�s share in the operations launched in Assam to check bird flu epidemic was spent on logistics leaving very little for payment of compensation to the farmers. This revelation came out in the study conducted by the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation (NEFDi) through the Fellowship for Agri-Resource Management and Entrepreneurship Research (FARMER) for socio-economic impact of bird flu in the State.
As per the report, a copy of which is available with The Assam Tribune, about 50 million rupees was spent on bird flue control operation in the state in 2008 following an outbreak of the disease and 66 per cent of the expenses was incurred in logistics leaving only 34 percent for the payment of compensation to the farmers. The report said that around 5.12 lakh birds were estimated to be susceptible, of which, 2697 birds died and 5.09 lakh were culled.
The report pointed out that the farmers did not get the market price of the culled birds during the operation. The market value of the poultry and poultry products destroyed in the operation was estimated to the tune of Rs 28 million, but the total compensation paid was only Rs 17 million, that is around 60.67 per cent of the market value of the destroyed items.
Due to the complete ban on transport of poultry and poultry related products in the state, the farmers, even of the non-infected zones incurred heavy losses , but the report said that the study could not make an assessment of the losses suffered by the farmers in the non-infected areas. However, as the outbreak took place in the peak season, the total loss has been estimated to the tune of more than 200 million rupees, the report added.
The study also gave a brief action plan to deal with any such eventuality in future an the first suggestion is to strengthen the diagnostic infrastructure by setting up of sophisticated laboratories to ensure early detection of the disease. There should be a proper socio-economic impact study of outbreak of such epidemic. The study recommended that an alternative plan for the non-infected area should be planned to facilitate movement of feeds and other inputs in the non infected zone.
The study recommended that steps should be taken to create a database of the poultry sector in Assam and there should be a proper assessment of veterinary services so that no one is caught off guard if such an epidemic breaks out in future. A risk fund should be raised to deal with any such eventuality and an extensive awareness and sensitization programme should be launched. The action plan of the Government of India should be revised immediately, the report said.
The report further said that inter-agency cooperation is a must to deal with outbreak of such epidemic and bird flu review can be on the agenda of the district level coordination committee meetings held every month where heads of all departments of the districts are present. The stakeholders should be included in the policy making process and a state task force should be created to deal with such cases.
Meanwhile, NEDFi sources said that the idea of the organization to conduct such a study is to give a tool to the Government and implementing agencies so that proper strategies can be developed based on the findings and recommendations.
It may be mentioned here that immediately after the study on bird flu epidemic in Assam, the FARMER has been entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out a study on socio-economic impact of bird flu in Indo-Myanmar, Indo-Bangla and Indo-Bhutan border areas by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.