Mandalay fish, chicken farmers cry foul over food safety ‘misinformation’

Operators of integrated fish-chicken farms in Mandalay Region have denied accusations that their products pose a health risk to consumers.

The farmers, who raise chickens above fish ponds, accused fish-feed manufacturers of spreading what they described as false information that fish fed with chicken manure carry disease and are unsafe to eat.

U Nay Thurein, chair of the Mandalay Chicken Meat Producers and Sellers Association, said there is almost no chance of fish being infected by being fed with chicken manure.

Citing a study conducted by the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, he said, “Putting chicken manure in fish ponds is like giving them potassium, nitrogen and other nutrients, and it nourishes small plants.”

Fish-chicken farming is a sustainable practice that preserves the environment and eliminates the need for chemical feeds.

He said the bacteria and viruses in chicken manure disappear in a short time, and international studies show that most parasites found in fish were not transmitted by chickens.

He said the World Organization for Animal Health had stated that disease found in chicken cannot transfer to fish and vice-versa, since the two animals live in different ecosystems.

“Water fertiliser is obtained from our chickens, making fish feed unnecessary,” he said. The fish feed factories … are trying to ruin our reputations,” U Nay Thurein said.

There are over 3000 acres of fish farms in Mandalay, which yield 4 to 5 tonnes an acre per year.

Ko Myo Myint Maw, an owner of a 10-acre integrated chicken-fish farm in Madaya township in Mandalay, said that consumers are worried about the safety of fish raised on integrated farms. “However, prices haven’t declined yet as meat demand is high in Myanmar.”

He proposed setting up a system to allay consumer concerns by monitoring standards and quality control on chicken and fish farms.

U Kyaw Htin, deputy chair of the Myanmar Livestock Federation, said there is no scientific proof that chicken-fish farms are a health threat.

Last year, the Myanmar Fisheries Federation urged Vice President U Myint Swe to crack down on the farms. The farmers resisted the move by pointing out the advantages of integrated chicken-fish farming, such as reduced farm input, and high production per acre.

Integrated chicken-fish farms became popular in 2010, and now number more than 2000 across the country, mostly in Yangon, Ayeyarwady and Bago regions.

Source: Myanmar Times

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