Kochiites are facing the prospect of limited supply of beef ahead of Christmas after meat sellers in the city decided on Monday to stop sales completely on Christmas eve in protest against the total ban on import of cattle from neighbouring States.

However, frozen meat sellers like the government-owned Meat Products of India has replenished its stores and sales outlets across Kerala with the normal quantities, said a senior official of the company on Monday. He said that the shortage of cattle supplies has been met through import of slaughtered animals from other States.

Import of cattle has been temporarily banned after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease across Kerala. The MPI official said that veterinary doctors from the company had been pressed into service to examine animals for their health before they were slaughtered and their meat imported into the State.

Beef sale has totally been stopped in some localities and is limited in other places across Ernakulam district because of a shortage of supply of cattle, said a meat seller in Vaduthala.

He said that meat-sellers had been hit hard by the ban on import of cattle from other States and expected the situation to remain so for some more time because of the outbreak of the disease across Kerala.

Meat sellers convened a meeting at Kaloor on Monday to discuss the situation arising out of the ban and decided to refrain from selling beef ahead of Christmas. Representatives of sellers from different parts of the district were present.

Meanwhile, the price of other meats like chicken has remained steady despite the reports of either shortage or total closure of beef sales. A chicken trader in the city said that the fowl meat was selling between Rs. 110 and 115 a kg in most of the market centres and that the price was not expected to go up in view of the situation in the beef market.

He said that there was a shortage of bird supply because of the rise in demand for chicken. Hoteliers in the city have already said they would not sell beef. This had resulted in hoteliers demanding more chicken.

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