Farmers in northeast more worried about entry of big companies in poultry business
Authorities on Friday began the disinfection operation in the bird-flu hit Lembucherra area of West Tripura after the mopping operation got over on Thursday.
Earlier, authorities in East Garo Hills district of Meghalaya completed the mopping operation in bird-flu-hit Williamnagar area of the district on January 22.
Even though India declared itself bird flu-free on December 29, 2011, Tripura and Meghalaya reported outbreak of the disease in January, prompting the authorities to resort to culling, mopping and disinfecting operations within 3 km radius of the epicentres in both States.
Manoranjan Sarkar, Director of Animal Resources Development Department told The Hindu that 6,025 birds were culled and 12,500 kg of feedstock destroyed within the 3 km radius of Lembucherra farm. He said compensation to the tune of Rs 1.20 lakh have been paid to the affected poultry farmers.
In Williamnagar 6,538 birds were culled, 9,157 eggs and more than 800 kg of feeds destroyed within the 3 km radius of a government-run farm.
The East Garo Hills authorities paid a total compensation of Rs. 3.81 lakh to the owners of the culled birds.
The poultry farmers in the northeastern States, however, are more worried about the changing market scenario due to entry of big companies in the poultry business.
“We are not worried about the outbreak of bird flu in Tripura and Meghalaya as authorities there have quickly intervened and carried out culling and other related operations. We are more worried by the changing market scenario in the region due to the entry of the big and multinational companies in the poultry business,” said the general secretary of the Poultry Hatchery Association, Assam Pranjit Pratim Koch.
The association declared “Hatch holiday” from February 12 to 19 to clear a backlog of about 17 lakh poultry birds.
Dr. Koch, who is also an executive member of the Poultry Federation of India, said the backlog was created due to the import of low-cost poultry birds procured from farmers outside the northeast region during the recent Bhogali Bihu festival.
“We have asked our association member farmers not to hatch any egg during the hatch holiday period so that the backlog can be cleared,” he added.
Every week, the poultry farmers from the northeast produce about 12 lakh birds to meet the demand of 24,000 tonnes of bird meat.
Price gap widened
Dr. Koch alleged that cost wise the gap between famers and consumers have also widened due to entry of the big companies, leading to a chain of middle men. Before the entry of these companies, trader used to bid the birds from the farmer and sell it to consumer. Now the trader has to procure them from a company that engages the farmers for poultry production. A wholesaler engages a dealer who in turn engages a sub-dealer. The sub-dealers then sell it to traders thereby creating a chain of middlemen, which results in consumers paying more.
Dr. Koch, who is also a veterinarian, pointed out that as many as eight hatchery farms that were closed down after the outbreak of bird flu in Assam could not be reopened as the compensation paid was too meagre. He said that while hatching of eggs costs Rs. 10.50, the government paid only Rs. 2 for each egg destroyed. The association moved both the Centre and the State government for adequate compensation to the affected farmers but in vain, he alleged.
Keywords: bird flu outbreak