Bird flu: concern over false propaganda

Special Correspondent

"Millions of farmers losing livelihood"

CHENNAI: The National Egg Coordination Committee has expressed concern at the false propaganda on the bird flu, which, it said, has resulted in a loss of Rs. 7,000 crore.

In a statement here, committee chairperson Anuradha J. Desai said the poultry industry was giving employment to three million people, mostly in rural areas; about 15 million farmers, who grew maize, soybean and other raw materials for poultry feed, were also dependent on it.

The scare, she said, had led to a collapse of the egg and chicken market, and the farm gate price of egg and chicken had dropped by 15-20 per cent of the production cost. Millions of farmers, farm workers and their families were losing their means of livelihood. On an average, the industry was losing Rs. 200 crore a day.

She said Rs. 12,000 crore was outstanding from the poultry sector to banks. In addition, farmers owed Rs. 22,000 crore-Rs. 25,000 crore to traders of feed and feed mills. If the trend continued, the farmers would go bankrupt, and they would never able to repay the loans.