Livestock Breeding in SE Bulgaria in Collapse over FDM

Business | January 15, 2012, Sunday // 14:14|  views

Owners of destroyed FMD-infected livestock are seen awaiting the payment of compensations by the government in the Tsarevo municipality. Photo by BGNES

One year after the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, FMD, in Bulgaria's Strandzha region, livestock breeding there is in collapse.

The news was reported Sunday by the largest private TV channel bTV.

Farmers, whose animals were killed, cannot rebuild their herds. If quarantine imposed bans are not removed by Easter, mass bankruptcies of farmers will follow, according to the report.

Atanas Chaldakov lost 209 cows, after FDM was discovered in his farm. The money he has received as compensation for animals killed, is not enough for half a herd, he says, adding he will need at least five years to restore his heard and will have to make copayment from his own pocket.

Another farm, in the village Fakia, which before had over 80 cows, now stands empty. Its owner had abandoned livestock breeding. Farmers in the area, who failed to sell their lambs last Easter over the quarantine, fear that the situation will be repeated this spring.

"If restrictions can be lifted in April when the Easter holidays start, this will save us. If the restrictive measures continue this year, there will be no animals left here, "says Rumen Lyutskanov - Chairman of the Association of Livestock Breeders in Strandza.

The Food Safety Agency explains that the ban on movement and trade of animals in the regions of Burgas, Yambol and Haskovo can be lifted no earlier than April - a year after the last detected case of FMD.

Farmers wonder why the construction of the fence along the border with Turkey, which must stop further FDM outbreaks, has been delayed.

"The actual installation is very complicated; such fence had not been built until now. It has a length of approximately 270 km; the terrain is inaccessible at places, "said Milena Lakova - Secretary General of the Regional Administration in Burgas.

The project for the fence is ready, but has yet to be agreed with the government. The deadline for construction is not clear. It is, however, known that the BGN 7 M, granted by the State, will not be enough.

On January 5, 2011, the first in the past 12 years case of FMD occurred in Bulgaria.

A wild boar with FMD was killed in the region of the southeastern Bulgarian city of Burgas. A 10 km security zone was established and all vehicles passing through the region were disinfected. All living animal trade in the Burgas region has been stopped.

The European Commission was informed about the accident.

FMD is a sometimes fatal viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals, including domestic animals such as cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats and pigs. Humans are very rarely affected.

FMD is highly contagious and, while it is not so dangerous for humans, a possible outbreak may cause severe economic damage in case there is a ban on the export of animal products, according to the Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov.

At the time, several centers of infection were registered in Turkey.

At the end of August, Bulgaria's government announced it will start building its border fence with Turkey no earlier than the beginning of 2012. It had initially intended to have the fence built by October 2011.

The decision for the fence's construction came after a number of villages in the remote Strandzha region in south-east Bulgaria bordering on Turkey experienced severe outbreaks of FMD, leading to the destruction of hundreds of heads of livestock. In January-February and then again since mid-March, Bulgaria was struggling to contain the spread of FMD.

Officials said they believed the disease was spread from flares in Turkey by wild animals roaming the Strandzha Mountain forests.

In the Cold War period the Bulgarian-Turkish border was a border between the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact and NATO, and as such was one of the most-heavily fortified borders in Europe. Since the early 1990s, Bulgaria has torn down its border fortifications and has ever dismissed its Third Army, which was deployed in the area.

Bulgaria's intention to build a new fence on its Turkish border came as Greece also announced plans for similar measure but designed to tackle the influx of illegal immigrants from the Middle East via Turkey.

Meanwhile, Turkish regions along the Bulgarian border began taking measures to prevent the spread of food-and-mouth disease from Bulgaria even though the Bulgarian authorities claimed the infection came from Turkey.

The Turkish authorities suspended all movement or evacuation of animals in the region of Kirklareli, known in Bulgaria as Lozengrad. The measure will be in place until May 9, 2021. What is more, the authorities in European Turkey started immunization of local domestic animals against FMD. According to EU sources, the European Commission has provided Turkey with 850 000 immunization doses even though the Turkish state has not provided official information.

It was reported in April 2011 that farmers in southeast Bulgaria will be receive compensations totaling BGN 2.4 M (EUR 1.2 M) for their livestock destroyed in order to contain the spread of FMD. Losses of farmers in the southeast Burgas District are estimated at BGN 6-10 M, or up to EUR 5 M.

The compensations are a part of the overall measures of the Bulgarian government to counter the new FMD outbreak. They are being provided to three groups of farmers – those who have their livestock destroyed; those who will be prohibited from moving or selling their animals within a 10-km zone, and those who are not allowed to trade in milk or meat.

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Tags: Strandzha, fmd, foot-and-mouth disease, livestock, farmers, food safety agency, Yambol, Burgas, livestock, livestock breeding, fence, Bulgaria, turkey, border, Easter, quarantine, ban, restirctions, Miroslav Naydenov, compensations, haskovo


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