Farmers in Kampot province are telling the government it must pay compensation
for culling their poultry if it wants their cooperation in the war against bird
"Caution! Don't let this problem happen," reads the sign. "Let's work together to stop bird flu."
Villagers and a local veterinarian in Angkor Chey district, where
there was an outbreak of bird flu late last month, said district agricultural
officials swept through the village, killed then burned hundreds of birds
belonging to six families, and paid no compensation. The reaction of other
villagers was to secretly sell their poultry at the market, regardless of
whether it might be infected.
A 12-year-old boy died of bird flu on
April 4 in Prey Veng province. A three-year-old girl died of the disease in
Kampong Speu province on March 22. Last year, four people living in Kampong
Trach district in Kampot died of H5N1 bird flu.
Iv Sambor, a veterinarian
in Kammakar village, Angkor Chey district, said, "To fight bird flu efficiently,
the government should pay compensation to the people who suffered
He said the government should pay farmers at least 30 to 50
percent of the value of slaughtered birds to get their cooperation.
Agriculture officials culling poultry, are facing resistance from farmers denied compensation.
is very important to have participation from people," he said.
32, a farmer in Kammakar village, said district agricultural officials
slaughtered her 113 ducks on March 29, costing her the entire two million riel
(about $500) that she had borrowed from the state to buy the ducks and unhusked
rice to feed them.
"They burned my ducks: how can I pay back the state?
The only one way [to pay back the two million] is that I have to sell my land,"
"I asked them for 500,000 riel in compensation, but they did
not agree," she said. "I am afraid of raising poultry any more because I am
afraid that they will kill them again. Now I do not know how to make a living
for my family."
Doeu Sokheng, 43, who lives in Kaksekar, a village not
far from Kammakar, said her fellow villagers' reaction to the Kammakar slaughter
was to rush their chickens and ducks to the market to sell them, for fear they
would be next in line for slaughter.
Spraying to combat the virus.
Sokheng said she has about 50
chickens but most of them were too young to sell.
"We are afraid now that
our chickens and ducks will get bird flu and be burned," she said.
Siv, director of Angkor Chey District Agriculture Department, said the
government does not compensate people whose poultry is burned because of bird
"Even though locals get angry, we try to [kill and burn chickens
and ducks] in order to preserve [the people's] lives, because bird flu is more
serious than AIDS," Siv said. "If someone gets it, they will not have medicine
to cure them, and five days to one week later, that person must die. But we
don't have any policy to compensate [owners of slaughtered
Veterinarian Iv Sambor said after chickens and ducks of the
six families in Kammakar village were slaughtered on March 29, neighboring
poultry farmers, frightened that their birds would be killed and burned as well,
secretly caught their poultry and sold it, regardless of whether it might be
"People are so poor and they depend entirely on their poultry
to make their living," Sambor said. "If their chickens and ducks are all burned,
how they can survive? So it is reasonable that they secretly take some chickens
and ducks to sell."
Siv said of the mass cullings, "We have no choice
because it is the government policy. What is most important is that we focus on
[preserving] human lives. When humans are alive, they can have poultry. But if
they die, they have nothing."