Poultry industry hit by bird flu fears, chicken prices drop by 50%

New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) After the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the country’s poultry industry, it is now reeling under the fresh threat of the bird flu infection. Due to the fear of bird flu, the sale of chicken and chicken products have been the worst-hit.

Especially in north India, the poultry industry has been badly affected by ban on the transportation of hens from one state to another. A delegation from the industry is scheduled to meet the central government on Sunday.

The cases of bird flu in poultry chickens have so far been found only in Haryana while most of them have been found in wild birds or migratory birds elsewhere and some cases have also been found in poultry ducks.

However, in the beginning of 2021, the fear of bird flu has increased so much that the demand of chickens and chicken products has decreased by more than 70 per cent, the poultry traders said. Poultry Federation of India President, Ramesh Khatri, told IANS that chicken sales had fallen by almost 70 to 80 per cent over the last three to four days, while prices had fallen by 50 per cent and egg prices had also come down by nearly 15 to 20 per cent.

Khatri said the primary reason for the falling demand for chicken is that the movement of poultry from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir has been halted from one state to another.

He said that the two farms in which the bird flu has been confirmed in Haryana are both layer farms and not broiler ones. In the layer farms, poultry farming is done for eggs, while in the broiler farms, poultry farming is done for chicken meat.

He said he would demand from the central government to save the poultry industry from rumour-mongering of bird flu.

A delegation from the poultry industry on Sunday would meet Union Minister Jitendra Singh in which Ramesh Khatri would also be present.

Poultry farm operator, Rakesh Manhas, also said he would urge the Central government that the rumours spread about bird flu causes humongous loss to the industry so measures should be taken to prevent such a situation.

The Union Animal Husbandry Ministry also said in the seven states where there were confirmed cases of bird flu on Saturday, only the reports of bird flu in poultry-chickens in Haryana has been confirmed.

In India since 2006, almost every year in winters, Avian Influenza, a common cold disease found in birds has been found somewhere or the other and the way to deal with the outbreak of this disease was made by the government in 2005, which has been implemented in the infection-affected areas.

Experts point out that the methods of eating chicken and eggs in India do not raise the question of transmitting bird flu in humans, although they say that the effort should be on not to eat infected birds.

Animal Husbandry Commissioner, Government of India, Praveen Malik, told IANS that there is no direct evidence of Avian Influenza (AI) virus being transmitted to humans by eating contaminated poultry products. He said that there is a need to maintain cleanliness and hygiene and the cooking and processing standards are also effective to prevent the spread of AI virus.

Agricultural economist and Poultry Federation of India advisor, Vijay Sardana, said the country’s poultry industry is worth nearly Rs 1.25 lakh crore, which has drastically come down to half during the corona pandemic crisis. This means the business of the poultry industry which was nearly Rs 1.25 lakh crore before the disaster of coronavirus has reduced to nearly Rs 60,000 to 70,000 crore at present.

The recovery of the poultry industry came in the last few days of 2020, which was earlier ravaged by coronavirus, but is now reeling under the threat of bird flu.

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