Egg and poultry lovers are being assured that local authorities are putting measures in place, even as the United States expects a recent outbreak of bird flu to be under control within a few months.
The US poultry industry is confronting its biggest recorded outbreak of bird flu, which has led to the death or culling or more than 40 million birds after confirmation on commercial farms and backyard flocks in about 16 US states and in Canada.
However, authorities there say they expected the epidemic to be under control by September, as warmer temperatures would help to weaken the virus while they step up measures to contain it.
President of the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association Carlyle Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY that residents should not be worried about the virus getting here because preventative measures were being taken.
And he gave the assurance that should the virus spread and Barbados is no longer able to get its egg and poultry products from the US, the country would source the products elsewhere, so there should be no repeat of the dramatic egg shortage, which took place late last year.
“We are keeping a very close eye. We are going to be testing our birds here from July. The birds start to come this direction from July and we will be testing every one of the swamps. We have about ten swamps and we will be testing every one of them and try to certify that we do not have it,” said Brathwaite.
With Barbadians currently using more than 100,000 eggs per day, Brathwaite said in addition to the 124,000 layers that were on the island, another
82,000 were expected over the next two months.
Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY he was pleased that the egg shortage situation “is now panning out and we should have a lot more eggs on the market from July onward”.
“Up to two weeks ago one farmer had about 30,000 eggs, and now we have another 23,000 that now start to come in, so we are getting there. The increased supply of brown eggs will continue to be available from this month and from next month we should have full access to brown eggs again,” reported Brathwaite.
He said last year officials in the industry did not expect the boom in the tourism industry, which led to an increase in demand for the product and contributed to the recent egg shortage.
“Then we had ships, which we never had to cater for in the past, that came in and made the demand even greater and we didn’t want to lose them. So we had to service them.
“We are now preparing for that and will have every year between 180,000 to 200,000 layers, so that we would not have that shortage problem any longer,” he said.
“From next month we are trying to prepare ourselves for the Christmas period, we are not waiting until then. We are working ahead of time now,” assured Brathwaite.
Earlier this month, Barbados lifted its ban on the importation of poultry products from some countries, but said restrictions remained in place for the United States and Canada.