Chicken, peppered with politics

S.R. Praveen
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‘Ban on chicken items’ by hoteliers from Wednesday evokes mixed response in Kozhikode city

Off the menu:Ready-to-eat chicken displayed at a chicken corner in Kozhikode city.— Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup
Off the menu:Ready-to-eat chicken displayed at a chicken corner in Kozhikode city.— Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup

The ‘ban on chicken items’ by hoteliers all over the State seems to have evoked a mixed response in the city.

The scenario is also perfect for various associations connected to hotels and the chicken trade to peddle their brand of ‘chicken politics’.

Traders are considering a temporary stoppage to the bringing of chicken from Tamil Nadu from Wednesday, which could erase chicken items from hotel menus for some time.

“The consumption of chicken is high in Kozhikode, compared to other districts in Kerala.

A typical hotel has around 30 chicken items in its menu. The current situation is a blow to small establishments. But it still has not affected the big hotels. Our chain of hotels is still selling chicken items,” says Sumesh Govind, Propreitor of the Paragon Group.

Feeling the heat

But there are others who are already feeling the heat.

“Our hotel stopped selling chicken items since Monday. We have received a few bulk orders for weddings, which we are not sure on how to proceed with. This ban has affected us considerably,” says E. Bharathan, who runs the French Restaurant here.

The prices of the broiler and leghorn varieties have touched Rs.180 and Rs.120 per kilogram respectively, rising around Rs.50 in the past month.

The leghorn variety is preferred for biriyani dishes whereas the broiler variety is preferred for curries and fries, as it is fleshier.

Not sure

The meat traders themselves are not sure on what contributed to the sudden increase in prices.

“The reasons for the price rises are still not clear. It might either be due to a fall in production in Tamil Nadu or the agents might be creating artificial demand to recoup their losses during the bird flu season a few months ago,” says Anoop, who runs a chicken shop in Nadakkavu.

While the response of hoteliers to the ban is mixed, even more mixed and contradictory are the comments from at least four associations who are stakeholders in the current scenario.

The All Kerala Chicken Merchants and Commission Agencies Association, the major trader’s body behind the call not to sell chicken, is demanding a cut in the ‘chicken tax’ imposed by the State government. This line was supported by the Kerala Broiler Coordination committee also. But a representative of the Kozhikode Chicken Merchant’s Association says the tax is just a small contributor to the losses in the sector.

Different view

The Hotel and Restaurant Association, a breakaway group from the major hoteliers association that took the decision not to sell chicken, says hotels owing allegiance to it will continue to sell chicken items and that the solution to counter rising prices is not to stop selling altogether.

Save chickens

The Kerala Samsthana Upabhokthru Vedi, a consumer rights group, welcomed the decision to not sell chicken for an entirely different reason – because it will “save the lives of millions of hapless chickens”.

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