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Fastest growing meat sector in the world reeling from bird flu outbreaks

by 5m Editor
25 February 2005, at 12:00a.m.

ASIA - Chicken is the world's fastest growing meat sector, but bird flu outbreaks in Asia have placed the livelihoods of millions of farmers at risk.

Fastest growing meat sector in the world reeling from bird flu outbreaks - ASIA - Chicken is the world's fastest growing meat sector, but bird flu outbreaks in Asia have placed the livelihoods of millions of farmers at risk.

Although meat from pigs is still the largest source of animal protein, poultry farming is growing exponentially, according Dr Samuel Jutzi, Director of Animal Production and Health at the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

In 2000, the world produced 89 million tonnes of pig meat, 66 million tonnes of poultry and 59 million tonnes of beef.

However, poultry's efficiency makes it the most attractive meat source.

"The conversion efficiency of poultry in terms of meat or eggs is highest of all animals," Jutzi said, adding that two kilograms of grain fed to poultry yields one kilogram of meat whereas the ratio is six to one in pigs.

According to the FAO, Southeast Asia, where the bird flu virus has become entrenched in poultry, accounted for approximately a quarter of the world's poultry trade, with China and Thailand as the largest exporters.

The FAO noted that in Vietnam, poultry serves as a supplier of high-quality protein to farming families, as well as providing cash income through the sale of meat and eggs. Most of the production comes from backyard poultry raised by about eight million smallholders.

Protecting those smallholders from poverty would be one of the biggest challenges facing authorities as they attempt to reform the industry by centralising production at larger factories, Jutzi said.

He further advised that governments should ensure small farmers' participation in expanding markets so that they do not get alienated in a globalising economy.

Source: eFeedLink - 25th February 2005

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