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?Poultry owners face ruin?

REPORTS OF a fresh bird flu outbreak threat could not have come at a worse time for the local poultry industry, which was just beginning to limp back to normalcy.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2006 13:08 IST

REPORTS OF a fresh bird flu outbreak threat could not have come at a worse time for the local poultry industry, which was just beginning to limp back to normalcy.

Chicken eaters who had hesitantly begun to troop into non-vegetarian foodie joints after the bird flu scare last month will once again take wing after news of birds in Jalgaon being hit by the H5N1 virus, fear restaurateurs.

Mindful of the havoc a sustained abstention from poultry meat could cause, industry insiders were at pains to stress that bird flu-II would have no local ramifications.

In Jalgaon poultry owners are individuals, who posses a couple of birds in their backyard. Most of the birds raised there are sold locally so there will be little impact, said Inderbir Singh Nayyar chairman of National Egg-Cordination Committee (NECC) Indore chapter and general secretary of the Indore Poultry Federation said.

He, however, is wary of the hype created by media. “Even though Madhya Pradesh was declared free from bird flu we were forced to endure heavy losses because of media reports. If it happens a second time around, the industry would be ruined,” he pointed out.

The 160 poultry farms dotting Indore churn out about 4 lakh eggs daily. Daily consumption of the eggs in Indore is 5 lakh eggs and these farms supply about 4 lakh egg. The consumption of chicken in Indore is 4-5 lakh tonne per day. The total turnover of the eggs in rupees comes to about Rs 1.20 crore per month and that of chicken comes to Rs 1.5 crore per month.

Since the avian flu scare, the demand has fallen 70 per cent with poultry farm owners incurring huge losses. Before February 18, the price of 1 kg of chicken was Rs 48 in Indore. Today, it has slumped down to Rs 30. The price per egg before the scare was 1.20 paise, now it has come down to 70 paise, he added.

In an attempt to restore faith among chicken connoisseurs National Egg-Cordination Committee (NECC) organised a ‘Chicken Mela’ in the City on the eve of Holi where all kinds of chicken dishes were served for free. “We have been advocating that chicken if properly cooked is not

harmful,” the tried to say. Indore Hotelier Association honorary secretary Vinod Madra said, “We have not stopped buying but the demand has gone down. Before the Jalgaon outbreak news came demand was steadily rising. But now the consumer is deterred and is turning to other options of fish and red meat.”

Mukesh Arora of Shreemaya Hotel said the demand had gone down but with Government and NECC attempts it had gone up slightly, “Among 10 customers five are now asking for chicken. This figure will go up in the coming days if proper attempts are made. But as a policy we do not advocate non-vegetarian food.”

First Published: Mar 17, 2006 13:08 IST