With the fresh threat of bird flu lingering in the country, the cultivation of chicken and poultry farms have been hit for the second time after the coronavirus’s pandemic robbed a big chunk of the industry’s livelihood.
Sales of chicken meat have taken a deep dive as the rates plunged in view of the decreased demand due to bird flu.
In North India especially, the transportation ban issued on moving hens across states is sucking the source of income from many traders and farmers. In this regard, an official is due to meet the Centre today for discussing the possible resolutions.
Among the 7 states reported with bird flu, only Haryana has confirmed cases of the infection in poultry birds whereas the rest are incidences seen in wild or migratory birds, including crows and ducks.
2021 did not start on a good note for the poultry industry as the fears for bird flu and related infections increased to the extent of the demand getting decreased by over 70%, forcing the chicken meat prices to go down by 50%. Ramesh Khatri, Poultry Federation of India President, said that the absence of demand made the sales reduce by nearly 70-80% with the egg prices the following suit and decreasing by almost 15-20%.
The prime causative factor for this reduction in demand is the restricted movement of chicken. Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi, and Haryana are not allowed to shift their poultry from one another, thereby, proving to be a hurdle in the sales.
Mr. Khatri said Haryana reported confirmed cases of bird flu from 2 layer farms, not broiler. For the unversed, layer farms are for raises eggs while broiler farms raise chicken for their meat. He added that he will raise a demand to the Centre for ceasing the cultivation of rumors around bird flu so as to save the poultry industry from plunging deeper into the pits of misery.
Hyderabad hasn’t been spared from the effects as sellers of chicken have brought down the prices from Rs.200 to Rs.160 today. Despite announcements of no threats or cases of bird flu in the state, the prices could not be stopped from decreasing. The scare has led to many chicken lovers killing their meat appetite.
The state capital witnesses the sale of 6 lakh kgs of chicken every day. The sale goes up to 8 lakh kgs during festivals. Despite the fall in prices, the residents of the city are scared to buy it. Hyderabad gets the imports of broiler chicken from neighboring states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. On the other hand, the prices of fish have gone up in the city due to a surge in the demand for fish in the wake of the scare of the bird flu. The price of one kg has gone up by Rs.100 to Rs.200 in the city.
As for the Sunday meeting between a delegate of the poultry industry and Union Minister Jitendra Singh, the PFI President will also be present, he added.
Poultry farm operator, Rakesh Manhas, joined Mr. Khatri’s voice in saying that he will urge the Central government to make efforts to ensure the rumors about bird flu are stopped and that more measures need to be taken to avoid any future occurrence of such kind.
India, however, has been registering cases of Avian Influence every winter since 2006. Avian Influenza is a common cold variant that infects birds. The government has adopted methods, mostly in the affected regions, to control the disease after the 2005’s outbreak.
Animal Husbandry Commissioner, Government of India, Praveen Malik, said that there hadn’t been any proof till now about the transmission of the virus from birds to humans after ingestion of infected meat. With this, there still is a necessity to maintain hygiene and cleanliness during cooking as these along with the processing standards are effective in preventing the spread of the virus associated with the disease.
This being said, experts highlighted the need to avoid eating contaminated meat, although the method in which chicken and eggs are consumed in India does not pose a threat to humans.
On the sales front, agricultural economist and Poultry Federation of India advisor, Vijay Sardana, said India’s poultry industry, which is worth almost Rs. 1.25 lakh crores, witnessed a drastic reduction of 50% since the pandemic began, referring to the point that the Rs. 1.25 lakh crore costing industry has now come down to Rs. 60,000- 70,000 crore.
December saw a glimpse of a recovery for the poultry industry that was badly hit throughout 2020 due to the pandemic. However, it reverted as bird flu made a comeback.