Some local poultry farmers have threatened to release 5,000 chickens in Central in protest against the government’s rules on the use of the Ta Kwu Ling wholesale market, Apple Daily reported Friday.
While the Cheung Sha Wan temporary wholesale poultry market is closed for three weeks — after some chickens imported from mainland China tested positive for a bird flu virus — local poultry is being processed at the Ta Kwu Ling site.
The market was repurposed as an inspection center in March last year for HK$30 million in the event of an avian flu outbreak.
Local farmers have been complaining about government restrictions requiring poultry trucks to enter the Ta Kwu Ling site only after 3 a.m. and allowing in a maximum of six trucks at a time.
Especially angering the farmers is a rule that poultry cannot be transferred to other trucks or loaded off the trucks at the site.
These rules mean that local poultry has to be transported all the way from the farms to stalls in markets in the same truck, which will mean a longer transfer time and higher logistics costs.
Given these restrictions, some local farmers said they would rather stop selling chickens for the 21 days halt imposed on chickens imported from the mainland.
However, sources told the newspaper the arrangements were clearly communicated to the poultry farmers at the time of the rebuilding of the Ta Kwu Ling inspection center.
The report said most of the farmers did find the arrangements troublesome but still accepted them, as they were meant to apply only for a short period spanning two to three weeks.
Other farmers argued that since it is not peak season for the sale of chicken and prices were not particularly high, it might be better to simply stop sales for 21 days.
Poultry Wholesalers Association chairman Tsui Ming-tuen and local chicken breeder and trader Regal Cheng have both denied they suggested at the time of the rebuildig of the Ta Kwu Ling inspection site not allowing the transferring of chickens between trucks.
Tsui warned that if the government does not respond to their complaints by Sunday, poultry farmers could stage a protest, including releasing chickens in Central.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said it will continue a dialogue with the poultry wholesalers about the logistical arrangements.
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