It has been reported from a turkey unit in Bangalore

The bird flu outbreak in a turkey unit of the government-run Central Poultry Development Organisation in Bangalore has triggered fear among farmers and exporters in Tamil Nadu that poultry products from across the country will be prevented from entering overseas and domestic markets.

Though poultry farms in the State have not been affected, the fear is that overseas buyers will not be location-specific while banning the products. The experience so far is that instead of banning products only from the affected zone, buyers react by clamping a ban on poultry products from across the country.

Secretary of the Animal Husbandry Department (AHD), Government of India, Gokul Chandra Pati confirmed the outbreak of bird flu in a report he submitted to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Friday. He stated that 3,481 turkeys had succumbed to the flu at the farm in the second week of October.

Based on test results from the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal, the department has identified a highly-pathogenic avian influenza virus as the cause of death. The report, however, made it clear that the occurrence was only in a zone or compartment and not the entire country.

Oman banned import of eggs from India earlier this year after bird flu was reported in north India. Poultry farmer and exporter P.V. Senthil said export to Oman resumed about five weeks ago, and so far 55 containers — more than 2.5 crore eggs — had been exported.

Chairman of National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) Namakkal Zone, P. Selvaraj told The Hindu that many countries banned the import of eggs and poultry products when bird flu was reported in a country.

“However, countries such as Afghanistan and Algeria imported eggs from India even when the OIE classified India as bird-flu affected. They were convinced that eggs from Namakkal are safe as we are far away from the affected zones.

“At present, the consumption of eggs is high in Oman and we are hopeful that they will continue importing eggs after testing the quality. If they impose a ban, it will become a problem for the export market.

“Broiler and egg-laying chicken in Karnataka have not been affected by the bird flu. But, the existing situation could become advantageous for the poultry industry in Namakkal. Eggs produced in Mangalore are supplied to northern Kerala and, at times, Chennai. Eggs from Tamil Nadu will be supplied to those centres if there is market resistance to eggs from Karnataka,” Mr. Selvaraj said.

Industry sources said that about 10 to 15 per cent of broilers reared in Tamil Nadu were from Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri, from where chicken is primarily sold in Bangalore. They said that these farms would be affected by the outbreak in Bangalore if there is precautionary consumer resistance to chicken.

“Wholesale egg rate was increased by 5 paise to Rs. 3.15 in Namakkal zone on Saturday to send a positive message to farmers — that they need not fear the bird flu,” NECC sources said.

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