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COVID-19: as poultry farmers’ losses mount, leaders seek proactive intervention from govt.

Badly hit:  A worker carries live chickens at a poultry farm in Sindhudurg district on Sunday.

Badly hit: A worker carries live chickens at a poultry farm in Sindhudurg district on Sunday.

As losses facing Maharashtra’s poultry farmers keep mounting, farmers’ leaders in the State have urged for proactive action from the government to dispel rumours linking COVID-19 to poultry.

Estimating that the poultry industry’s losses had well exceeded ₹500 crore in a matter of weeks, farmers’ leaders like Dr. Ajit Nawale of the All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) chief Raju Shetti have urged that the government announce some subsidy to poultry farmers to help them tide over the current crisis.

“Thanks to the widely spread misconception that chickens are the wellspring of the novel coronavirus, poultry prices have plummeted to a startling low of ₹5 to ₹10 per kg. Chicken farmers in Maharashtra and neighbouring States like Karnataka find themselves in the grip of a grave crisis,” Dr. Nawale told The Hindu .

Given that the estimated input cost in raising a live chicken weighing 1 kg is ₹75, while a 3 kg chicken costs the farmer ₹215, he urged the State government to actively consider waiving the input cost of poultry farmers to help them surmount this rough patch.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a knock-on effect on farmers growing maize and soybean, essential ingredients which respectively constitute 60% and 25% of poultry feed.

“Prices of maize have plummeted from ₹22 to ₹12 in districts like Nashik and Aurangabad. More seriously, the poultry industry is a source of employment for thousands in the rural hinterland, who have taken up poultry farming as they found agriculture to be economically unfeasible,” Dr. Nawale said.

Mr. Shetti said in the past few weeks, poultry farmers in Kolhapur district alone, which has around 4,500 poultry farms, have suffered losses in excess of ₹15 crore. He said the average wholesale per kg rate of chicken has more than halved as a result of a single rumour linking poultry to COVID-19.

“From ₹110 per kg, chicken is being sold at half price, and many times as low as ₹25-30 per kg. Thanks to such baseless and unfounded rumours, people are turning their backs on chicken, eggs and meat. This misconception has proved catastrophic for the poultry industry, which is a source of employment to many rural youths in this region,” Mr. Shetti said.

Dr. Nawale and Mr. Shetti emphasised the need for the government to intensify its efforts at the district and taluka levels by conducting sustained awareness campaigns to dispel misleading rumours linking poultry to the coronavirus.

Mr. Shetti said poultry farmers should be given assistance of ₹50 per chicken as they face the very real threat of being run out of business if the harmful trend continues. Dr. Nawale said the AIKS will hold a meeting of poultry farmers in Aurangabad district on Monday to review the situation and present their demands before the government.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 6:41:23 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/covid-19-as-poultry-farmers-losses-mount-leaders-seek-proactive-intervention-from-govt/article31077745.ece