ANDHRA PRADESH

Scare puts poultry industry in soup in north Andhra



Santosh Patnaik

INDUSTRYDOSSIER

The industry which provides employment to thousands of people is in dire straits The campaign launched by the National Egg Coordination Committee and Bromark has helped to some extent in allaying fears The State accounts for one-third to one-fourth of all-India annual turnover of Rs.35,000 crores of poultry business

VISAKHAPATNAM: The falling prices of chicken as a fallout of bird flu scare has hit the poultry industry very hard in north coastal Andhra. Recovering from the initial drop in sale of about 60 per cent, the industry is slowly stabilising, the offtake going up by 20 per cent.

The industry which provides employment to thousands of people is in dire straits due to fear among people that consumption of chicken will lead to transmission of bird flu from the bird to human beings.

However, the campaign launched by National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) and Bromark has helped to some extent in allaying misconception among consumers.

At a time when the industry was able to push up its sales, albeit marginally, the fall in prices last Sunday came as a jolt to farmers and traders.

The price of a kg. (dressed) chicken which was Rs. 35 last Sunday, fell to Rs.25-Rs.30 sending panic signals among people that bird flu threat still persists.

The falling price, however, is prompting those who are buying chicken, to double the quantity of their intake.

Bird feed

"People who are used to buying 500 gm are preferring to purchase 1 kg. due to drastic fall in price,'' admits Bharanikana Rama Rao, NECC national executive member.

The farmers have not yet felt the pinch of the bird flu scare as the ingredients like feed procured by them will last another 15 days.

"We expect that with the cooperation of the Government machinery, we can increase the sales by convincing the public that there is no scope for bird flu infection here,'' says Mr. Rama Rao.The State accounts for one-third to one-fourth of all-India annual turnover of Rs.35,000 crores of poultry business. North Andhra also has a prominent share in the market with 30 lakh layers and 50 lakh broiler birds.

The daily production is about 25 lakh eggs and 1.5 lakh kg of chicken.

The layers take six weeks to grow to 1.8 to 2 kg. All the units put together in the State have five crore layers and nine to 10 crore broiler birds.

The industry is not able to get insurance coverage for life-threatening diseases like bird flu.

The insurance companies are insisting on a premium of Rs.4 a bird per cycle, which the industry feels is not affordable.