MANILA - Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol is asking poultry farmers hit by the bird flu outbreak for more patience as the government tries to contain the virus.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Piñol said the Department of Agriculture is banning the shipment of fowls and poultry products only from the 7-kilometer radius bird flu-hit area.
"Humihingi kami ng paumanhin at pang-unawa sa mga tao na medyo naipit 'yung hanapbuhay dahil sa measures na ginagawa namin," Piñol said
"But you have to understand, we are talking here of 64 million broilers, 34 million layers, 10 million ducks, and the whole poultry industry. We cannot sacrifice this industry," he stressed.
Even market vendors in Metro Manila have already started to feel the effects of the outbreak as less and less consumers buy poultry products for fear of contracting the disease.
In Quezon City markets, prices of chicken have dropped to about P120, from the usual P140 to P150.
Authorities earlier clarified that the type of bird flu that hit the fowls in Pampanga cannot be transferred to humans via consumption of meat.
Piñol clarified that there is no ban on the movement of poultry products within Luzon although there is ban on shipment of these products from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao.
"'Yung ban from Luzon to other parts. The moment na within the next few weeks, pag makita natin na wala nang incidents outside of the 7-kilometer radius, okay na tayo diyan," he said.
The Agriculture chief said the Philippines is still lucky that the bird flu virus hit the layers or the fowls that lay eggs and not the broilers or the live chicken.
"Ang tinamaan ay layer farms, so ang lumalabas, itlog. How do you cook itlog, di ba pinapakuluan mo? So talagang ano e. Pero siguro kung broiler yun, live chicken, ang lumalabas from San Luis na binebenta sa merkado, that would have been a different story," he said.
Piñol vowed government help to poultry farmers affected by the avian flu outbreak. He said, aside from calamity aid, loan assistance will be offered to these farmers.