Bird flu outbreak in Bihar led to the embargo

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) norms the ban on export of egg and chicken from India to countries that are members of the organisation should have come to an end on June 9. The ban came into effect on March 9, 2013, after a bird flu outbreak was reported in a farm in Madhubani, Bihar, in February.

A notification in this connection was sent by the Animal Husbandry Department (AHD), Government of India, to OIE in March – after confirming it in the Bhopal based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory – following which members of the organisation had imposed the ban on poultry products from India.

“The ban is usually imposed by countries for a period of 90 days after the AHD confirms a bird flu outbreak. But the ban that is now in effect been for more than seven months as the ban that was imposed on October 28 following an outbreak in a government-run turkey farm at Hesaraghatta, Karanataka, continued,” P.V. Senthil, secretary of the Livestock and Agriculture Farm Traders Association, said.

He said that the earlier ban should have been lifted on January 26, 2013, but it got delayed due to the delay by the AHD in notifying the OIE that the country was free from bird flu. “AHD authorities sent the notification to OIE on February 14, about three weeks later, after poultry bodies made repeated representations to authorities concerned in the State and Union Governments,” he added.

Poultry farmers were hopeful of getting the ban lifted and suffered another major blow when the outbreak was reported in Bihar. “Due to the delay in making a representation to the OIE and continuance of the ban, annual egg export from Namakkal (biggest export zone in India) was at its worst in the financial year 2012-13 in over a decade,” NECC sources said. Over the years the industry has witnessed a heavy drop in egg consumption during summer. “This is the 13{+t}{+h}time a ban was imposed on export of poultry products from India in six years, citing outbreak of bird flu as the reason. Every time a ban is imposed exporters and farmers have been having a tough time to lift it by making repeated representations to the AHD officials,” members of farmers’ associations said.