Bhutan has lifted an eight-month ban on the import of poultry, eggs and related products from India two months after New Delhi declared itself avian flu-free.
Bhutan had imposed an indefinite ban on the import of poultry and related products in February following the outbreak of the H5N1 virus in poultry in India's Maharashtra state. On Aug 12, India declared itself free of the avian virus, which had led to the culling of millions of infected poultry across the world and the deaths of around 135 infected people.
A statement issued by Bhutan's agriculture ministry said the import was subjected to acceptance of several essential conditions aimed to minimise and reduce the risk of egg-borne and poultry meat-borne diseases like avian flu.
"This would ensure and safeguard public health and guarantee that only safe and quality poultry products are made available for general consumers in Bhutan," the ministry said.
"Import of poultry products can therefore be done from any company or firm in India that can meet the essential set of conditions."
The ministry said all poultry meat must be processed with proper packaging and must be from a Government of India certified unit.
"All consignment should be transported in refrigerated vehicles to Bhutan and the quantity of each consignment will be specified," the statement said.
Bhutan's major poultry imports come from West Bengal. Records show that of the five entry points, Phuentsholing alone registered imports of 168,738 kg of chicken and about 2,240 cardboard boxes of eggs in the past year.
The ban had triggered an unprecedented rise and scarcity in the price of locally bred chicken and eggs.
In July, the livestock department began negotiating with the Indian government to establish a restricted lift on the ban and resume controlled and monitored import.
The department had sought a declaration of some poultry establishments as free of diseases with strict bio-security and surveillance measures in place, or the creation of compartments ensured free of bird flu.
The Indian government officially declared the country as 'bird-flu free' based on the report of the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL).