Bird flu in Barwala:Just ₹90 per culled bird will drive us to bankruptcy, says poultry farmers
Detection of avian influenza in two poultry farms of the Barwala belt has left poultry farm owners on tenterhooks about their fate.
Around 1.66 lakh chickens in five farms falling in the affected area are being culled after the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, confirmed presence of the virus in different areas of the belt.
While the government will be paying the affected poultry farms ₹90 for every bird culled, farmers say, this is pittance compared to the ₹500-crore loans, which were set to cripple the industry.
“Farm owners in Barwala belt owe over ₹500 crore in loans. How will they repay it, if birds are culled? Besides, over hundreds of workers at the affected poultry farms will be left unemployed,” said Darshan Kumar, president of the Haryana Poultry Farmers Association.
Farmers approach admn
On Monday, the association gave a representation to the Panchkula deputy commissioner, seeking that the compensation for each bird be increased to ₹450.
“Each bird costs the farm owners up to ₹500, but the government will be paying only ₹90, which was the rate back in 2013. Now, cost of raising each bird has increased manifold,” the association members said.
They also requested the administration to spare the farms situated near affected farms. “If authorities go about culling birds falling in the 1-km radius of affected farms, nearly 80 farms will go extinct,” said Rajesh Singla, owner of a poultry farm.
This mass culling is unprecedented, said Singla, who has been in the trade for the past 30 years. “This is the first time bird flu has been detected in Barwala belt, which called for culling of birds at this extent,” he added.
But, widespread culling will push farmers into bankruptcy, he said, adding that killing healthy birds just because they were in the 1km radius was unreasonable.
‘Banks will come after loan defaulters’
Sudhir Aggarwal, who has been in the business for 35 years, said, “Every farm owner has taken loan of ₹300 to ₹500 on each chicken, translating into a load of nearly ₹3 crore for 1 lakh birds. How will they tide over the losses if the government pays only ₹90 per bird?”
“In the next few months, private banks will start seizing farms of defaulting poultry owners. Where will they go then?” he questioned.
Nearly 30% farms had shut down over the past three years, especially during the ongoing pandemic, said Sishpal, owner of one of the farms, where culling is undergoing. With his farm set to lose around 1 lakh birds that cost him around ₹450 each, he said his business’ fate now hanged in balance.
BOX: Over 20,000 birds culled in 3
days, more samples taken
Panchkula The local administration collected more samples from poultry farms in the Barwala belt on Monday, even as culling of over 20,000 birds finished at two farms.
After bird flu was confirmed in samples taken from Siddharth Poultry Farm, Kheri, and Nature Poultry Farm, Dandlawar-Ganauli, the Haryana government on January 8 turned the area within a kilometre of the two epicentres as infected zone (covering three more farms in Kheri) and 1-10km as surveillance zone, besides announcing culling of 1.66 lakh birds in these farms.
With around 40 rapid action teams culling birds, deputy commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja said the situation was under control.
“Culling has been completed at Siddharth and Nature poultry farms. On Tuesday, four teams will complete sanitisation at these farms. Meanwhile, culling of birds has started at Narender poultry farm,” he said, adding that more samples were collected on Monday from 12 poultry farms.