Poultry industry asks govt to notify bird flu hit areas

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Jan 20 | Updated: Jan 21 2008, 08:30am hrs
Faced with an estimated loss of Rs 16.5 crore a day on account of the outbreak of avian flu in West Bengal, the poultry industry has urged the Central government to define areas under this deadly disease, so that exports from other parts of the country can be business as usual.

After several days of largescale mortality on poultry in Birbhum and Dakshin Dinajpur districts in West Bengal, the government on January 15, 2007 confirmed the incidence of avian flu (H5N1 virus), after receiving the test reports from the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory.

In response to this recent incidence of avian flu, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Qatar have imposed a ban on Indian poultry exports. The UAE, which was planning to lift the ban on Indian poultry exports after India attained avian flu-free status last year, has now decided to continue with the ban.

Wholesale prices of broilers declined by about 20-25% in almost all markets in the country, from Rs 45 per kg live to Rs 35 or even lower in some markets, on account of avian flu, but gained slightly later in the week. Egg prices in wholesale dropped by almost 25% across the country from, Rs 190 per 100 eggs to Rs 140 per 100 eggs, said Amit Sachdev, a market analyst and India representative of US Grains Council.

According to Sachdev, about 40 million birds are sold per week in the in the market, and keeping in view the drop in broiler prices, the estimated loss would work out to Rs 10 crore a day. Similarly, 134 million eggs are sold per day in the market, and keeping in view the drop in egg prices, the estimated loss would be Rs 6.5 crore a day.

The representative body of the poultry industry, the National Egg Coordination Committee has demanded that the government take up the issue of zoning poultry areas in the country on priority, so that poultry exports from zones not affected by avian flu can continue. It has also demanded strict surveillance and vaccination in the countrys border areas to prevent the entry of deadly avian flu virus from neighbouring countries.

Sachdev has also suggested hygienic mobile slaughter facilities for culling birds. In West Bengal the avian flu has spread to the Murshidabad district and unusual poultry, mortality has been reported in Burdwan, Bankura, Cooch Behar, Nadia, and Purulia, and 24 South Paragans districts. According to reports received, the tests samples from birds in Purulia, Cooch Behar, and Nadia proved negative for bird flu. Samples from affected areas have also been sent to ascertain transmission of avian flu virus to humans and animals.

However, the West Bengal animal resources minister Anisur Rehman said.that the situation was under control and a target has been set to cull 4,00,000 chickens within seven days, of which 60,000-70,000 had already been culled. The culling team of 85 would be increased to 300.The Union animal husbandry commissioner, Santanu Bandopadhaya said that there was no evidence so far that the current incidence of avian flu was due to migratory birds.