July 1, 2008
Live poultry retailers and wholesale markets are ready for operations tomorrow morning (July 2, 2008), as poultry wholesalers seek to learn on how to operate when they are banned from overnight stocking of live birds while the government increases compensation offers.
Arrangements have been made to enable local farms to send chickens to the wholesale market on Monday night (June 30, 2008), while supplies of live chickens in retail outlets will resume today, according to a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).
AFCD staff have been collecting samples and conducting tests for the chickens in local farms to ensure those sent to the wholesale markets are bird flu-free, the spokesman said.
The wholesale market has been cleaned and disinfected, with trading expected to resume on early Wednesday morning (July 2, 2008).
Hong Kong has banned overnight stocking of live chickens and in response, 10 poultry wholesalers visited wet markets in Macau, which was under a similar ban, to learn how to operate under the ban.
Hong Kong Poultry Wholesalers' Association chairman Tsui Ming-tuen said the government should follow Macau's example and give support to traders, such as rental exemptions.
Vendors should also have an agreement among themselves not to lower prices at night in a bid to clear their stock, said Wong Wing-nam, chairman of Hong Kong and Kowloon Poultry Dealers' and Workers' Association.
Tsui said 100 retailers are expected to resume operations on Wednesday (July 2, 2008).
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government has raised its compensation offers to poultry farmers and wholesalers who ceased operations. Farmers now stand to receive HKD 17 million (US$2.2 million) to surrender their licenses while overall offer to wholesalers has increased by HKD 33 million (US$4.2 million) to more than HKD 170 million (US$22 million).
About 80 percent of 260 chicken retailers have accepted the government proposal, with an increase of nearly HKD 100 million (US$13 million) to a total of HKD 513 million (US$66 million).