It may be a sheer coincidence that chicken was not served at the CPI(M) state conference at Mahajati Sadan on Wednesday, but the bird flu panic has certainly hit the local market.
Prices in the wholesale market have dropped, caterers complained that customers are canceling orders, roadside eateries and restaurants alleged that there was a sharp decline in their sales and city hospitals have stopped offering chicken and eggs to patients.
The state poultry industry, which have a large market in neighbouring Jharkhand and Bihar, is in a sticky situation as both states have imposed a blanket ban on the import of Bengal chicks following the outbreak of the dreaded disease. The West Bengal government has already ordered culling of chickens, principal secretary, animal resource development department, Dilip Chakraborty, said at Writers’ Buildings on Wednesday.
According to Chakraborty, the state exports approximately 40,000 chicks to Jharkhand and 60,000 to Bihar every day. The ban on the import has virtually put the state poultry industry in quandary. The state information and culture department, of which Chakraborty is the principal secretary, would be issuing an advertisement, both in the electronic and print media so that the state poultry industry does not face a similar experience, as it had experienced two years back. Md Kamaluddin, who sells chicken in New Market said, “Everyday I sell around 200 kilograms, but today I have sold only about 125 kilograms. If the trend continues then the prices will drop sharply, as it happened in 2004 and 2006.”
The scenario in the wholesale market was, however, little different. Prices have already dropped by at least three rupees and hatchery owners are blaming it on dealers and middlemen. Assistant secretary of West Bengal Poultry Welfare Association, Nazrul Islam said, “It is the middleman and dealers who are pressurising to cut down the prices”.