Demand dips for egg, chicken; no transmission to humans
The poultry sector is on tenterhooks as more States report avian flu in migratory birds and curb movement of poultry products as consumers stay away from chicken and eggs.
Avian flu has been reported in 10 States so far as Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Delhi joined Kerala, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh in confirming cases on Monday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also discussed the spread of bird flu and asked the States to remain alert. He said the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has put in place a plan to tackle the problem, in which District Magistrates will have a key role.
States yet to be affected should be on a constant vigil, Modi said and hoped that through proper coordination between Forest, Health and Animal Husbandry Departments, “we will be able to overcome this challenge soon”.
Though more States detected avian flu in crows and migratory birds, poultry remained largely unaffected. In Parbhani, Maharashtra, where the virus has been reported in poultry, the culling of birds is expected to begin on Tuesday. In Haryana, culling of infected birds is on to contain the disease.
No restriction on sales
Also, the Centre has asked States not to restrict the sale of poultry products as there was no scientific reports of human transmission. Giriraj Singh, Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, said as there are no scientific reports on transmission, consumers should not be scared.
However, sales of poultry products have taken a hit mainly in northern parts affecting prices, while there has been no major impact in the South. “Poultry firms are selling chicken at a loss of ₹25/kg and the industry has so far lost ₹70-80 crore on account of this,” said Ramesh Chander Khatri, President of Poultry Federation of India (PFI).
The price of live birds (broiler) has fallen to ₹65-70 a kg at the farmgate. For small players, the impact is more as the price has fallen by up to ₹50 a kg. The price of eggs has fallen to ₹3 (which used to be ₹5 a week ago) at the farmgate.
B Soundararajan, Director, Suguna Foods Pvt Ltd, said consumers are still worried and are shying away from broiler chicken meat. “Last week there was a drop in consumption for three days, but there was some recovery on Saturday and Sunday. Whether this rise is sustainable or not is not known,” he said.
“There is no incidence of bird flu in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. However, the reports of the disease being reported from parts of the country have impacted consumption, resulting in a dip in prices,” said Suresh Chitturi, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Srinivasa Farms
Prassana Pedgaonkar, GM at Venkeys said that bird flu has not affected consumption of chicken meat. “ According to indications, consumers are aware of the facts and hence consumption has not come down. Even the prices are expected to return to normal. It would be too early to estimate the impact on overall poultry business,” he said.
(With inputs from T V Jayan in Delhi, Rahul Wadke in Mumbai, Radheshyam Jadhav in Pune, K V Kurmanath in Hyderabad)