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Rs 50-crore loss every day to poultry industry

SINCE IT was first detected in Asia nine years ago, the avian influenza (bird flu) virus has so far claimed 80 human lives. Not a single case has been reported from India so far and yet exaggerated media reports have fuelled the bird flu scare inflicting terrible losses on the poultry industry.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 13:12 IST

SINCE IT was first detected in Asia nine years ago, the avian influenza (bird flu) virus has so far claimed 80 human lives. Not a single case has been reported from India so far and yet exaggerated media reports have fuelled the bird flu scare inflicting terrible losses on the poultry industry.

This, in a nutshell, was the message at a seminar organised by the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) at Apsara restaurant to dispel ‘myths and rumours’ about the impact of the bird flu virus on the human population.

NECC senior vice-president Vishwanath Dubey was the chief speaker at the seminar, which also witnessed attendance by former head of pathology department of Jabalpur Veterinary College Dr J N Vegad, Dr A G Khan (HOD, Poultry Sciences and Phoenix Hatcheries GM).

Addressing mediapersons before the seminar got underway, poultry industry honchos revealed that they had incurred daily losses amounting to over Rs 50 crore since the H5N1 virus was first detected in Navapur. Hurting badly by the en masse boycott of poultry products after the birds tested positive the industry decided to embark on a sustained campaign to allay public fears.

The seminar, which comes in the wake of a similar event in Bhopal yesterday, is part of the confidence building measures.
“Only 150-200 birds have died of the avian influenza virus in the entire country and only three samples have tested positive. However, the media has exaggerated the impact of the virus to play up on people’s fears,” said Dubey.

This, he added, has led to the poultry industry being virtually ruined. “Take Indore which consumes around 4-lakh eggs daily. The production cost of one egg comes to around Re 1, but it is being sold for 55 paise. Even then there are few takers,” the NECC vice-president added.

If the virus was as prevalent as it is being made out to be would I risk my life, and that of my family members, by
exposing myself to poultry birds day in and day out,” queried Chairman, district chapter of NECC, Inderbir Singh Nayyar rhetorically.

In response to a question, Nayyar said a meeting of poultry farm owners and hoteliers would be convened shortly to probe
the feasibility of rewarding white meat consumers as was being done in Kolkata.

First Published: Apr 07, 2006 13:12 IST