The population of the West Region and particularly poultry farmers of that region will never forget June 03, 2016. In effect, it was on this day that public authorities announced the spread of the avian flu epizooty declared in Yaounde to the West Region.
With shock and consternation did the population of Cameroon as a whole receive this breaking news. Reason ; the West Region is the heartbeat of poultry farming representing approximately 80 per cent of national production.
And as if to make things worse, even though for the good of the population, local authorities suspended poultry activities in some areas of the region. With the ban on the sale of chicken in Bafoussam, and the whole Mifi and Koung-khi Divisions, where two outbreaks of avian flu were diagnosed, the Cameroonian poultry sector found itself without any market inflicting untold circumstances both at national and sub regional levels.
In six months, this economic vacuum could have gone on for one and half years. But as it is always said, for everything that has a beginning, there is an end. Augustine Awa Fonka, Governor of the West Region has happily put an end to it.
The decision to unban poultry activities in the region clears the way for actors in the sector to bounce back to activity. It tells of the fact that the dreaded avian flu has become a thing of the past. Now that the administrative decision has been taken, what next, must be the question on every lip.
And this is certainly a good question considering the fact that some poultry farmers must have downed their tools and switched to other activities in order to make ends meet. This, in effect, is where the shoe pinches most. At the time of the outbreak of avian flu, statistics indicated that the West Region alone produced at least 300,000 chicks a day. With the lifting of the ban, will this amount resurface?
Perhaps it is not time to ask questions that may instead help to pull back initiatives. The poultry sector remains an important sector in the country's economy and one which has successfully boosted the private sector creating enormous employment. This factor must be taken into consideration. This is where the real challenge is. Poultry farmers have for several years frowned at the administration for not doing much to boost their activities.
The lifting of the ban in the West, needs to be accompanied with other measures especially those that will ease resumption of activity. These measures could include, exoneration of taxes and customs duties on inputs, banning and stringent control of the importation of frozen chicken and provision of avenue for poultry farmers to acquire loans from the famous bank for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.
This could just be one of those measures to ensure that the sector is well preserved.