Iraqi Kurdistan bans Turkish chicken imports amid bird flu scare

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has banned the import of Turkish chickens and eggs due to incidents of bird flu in Turkey, according to KRG Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Abdulstar Majeed, who spoke to the Cihan news agency on Thursday.

An outbreak of bird flu was reported in the Black Sea province of Kastamonu earlier this month, in addition to a severe episode affecting farms in the western province of Balikesir. A total of 70,000 chickens are believed to have been killed as a result of the latter finding of bird flu and the measures taken after the outbreak. Around 2.5 million chickens are raised per year at 132 farms in that area of Balikesir province.

Majeed said the ban would continue until a report had been produced indicating that the country was completely free of bird flu outbreaks.

He also said that the KRG would begin to impose taxes on agricultural imports from Turkey and Iran in an effort to bolster local producers.

“At the moment all of our agricultural products come from Turkey and Iran. As such, our local producers are suffering a great loss. Despite our local products being of high quality, people prefer cheaper products. For this reason, our farmers are abandoning production. From here on out we will protect our farmers by imposing a tariff on all agricultural imports,” said Majeed.

The realization of such a plan would spell more bad news for Turkish exporters, whose business has suffered amid regional conflicts. Trade with Iraq, which was Turkey’s second largest export partner for several months last year, has declined as the conflict in Turkey’s southern neighbor has intensified.