The poultry industry at a meeting with the Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday has said that it has suffered a loss of Rs 1,000 crore since the first confirmation of bird flu in two districts of West Bengal. They said that the loss would increase further if the situation did not improve.
"The poultry industry has demanded zoning of poultry areas in the country based on geo-climatic conditions so that exports from bird flu-free zones can be business as usual, ban on export of corn and soybean to augment feed availability, 7% central government's interest subvention on loans and two-year moratorium on repayment of loans," said Anuradha Desai, chairperson of the National Egg Coordination Committee.
Pawar on being questioned about the industry's demand said : "Zoning of poultry areas would not help. The OIE, FAO and other international bodies treat the country as one zone. But I would work on a financial .package in consultations with the finance minister, P Chidambaram and the West Bengal chief minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharya."
He assured that the financial package would be an improved one over that announced in March 2006 on account of the outbreak of bird flu. The March 2006 package contained 4% interest subvention, one-year moratorium period for repayment of loans, conversion of working capital into loans and extension of fresh loans for working capital.
The industry opposed the US offer to provide vaccines for vaccination. Desai said : "Vaccination by foreign vaccines against the local H5N1 strain would not help to contain the spread of the virus, but would complicate the problem. Such vaccination did not resolve the problem in Thailand, Vietnam and China."