Lucknow: Barely out of a slump in business during the pandemic-induced lockdown, anxiety has hit the poultry industry in Uttar Pradesh due to the bird flu outbreak.
The poultry industry has been dealt a fresh blow, as the sale of chicken and chicken products are plunging. The ban on transportation of hens from one state to another has also hit them badly.
Poultry shop owners have urged the state government to help them otherwise they will not even able to pay the rent, as they have already suffered huge losses during the lockdown.
In the wake of the bird flu or avian influenza outbreak that has affected ducks and birds in eight states, many people have started avoiding eating chicken and eggs, leading to a major slump in prices. The poultry industry across the state had to sell their birds low prices and lakhs of them were also culled.
Habibullah Ansari, a meat shop owner from Chauk area, Lucknow, said: "Usually our business sees a spike during winter but now there is a 50% slump. We thought of recovering the losses suffered during COVID-19, but with bird flu it seems difficult.”
Since Sunday, the price of live chicken across the state has come down by Rs 20-30 per kg in retail markets, after the government confirmed an outbreak of avian flu, poultry industry representatives said on Monday.
Abid Qureshi, a chicken seller at Chinhat, Lucknow, said: “Sales have dropped considerably despite the dip in rates. Chicken is now selling at Rs 120 per kg. It was Rs 180 to Rs 200 per kg last week.”
Pradeep Modanwal, another shop owner, told NewsClick: "The number of customers has declined due to rumours of bird flu in the state. I urge both Central and state governments to help us in this difficult time as most of the poultry shop owners here will not be able to pay their rent."
Modanwal said despite several assurances by the state government through several mediums that eating properly cooked chicken does not lead to bird flu in human beings, rumours are going around and affecting sales.
The sale of eggs has also dropped by about 35% across Uttar Pradesh. "In Lucknow, around 1.3 to 2.1 lakh eggs are sold daily in the Gorakhpur region alone, but according to our reports, the sale has dropped to just 3 lakh eggs daily across the state,” said Modanwal.
Meanwhile, Arvind Kumar Rao, joint director, animal welfare, Lucknow Nagar Nigam, has appealed to people not to panic.
"We have already started an awareness programme with bird sellers so that they can maintain hygiene and cleanliness and prevent birds from any infection. We must ensure that everybody follows all orders issued by the animal husbandry department," Rao told NewsClick, adding that people should not pay heed to rumours.
"You can eat chicken and eggs without any fear but must ensure that the meat must be properly cooked and eggs properly boiled," he added.
In view of the rising number of bird deaths due to bird flu, Uttar Pradesh has stopped the import of birds from neighbouring states.
The Centre on Saturday added Uttar Pradesh to the list of states where the outbreak of bird flu or avian influenza has been confirmed. The total number of states affected states is now eight, including Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat.
The Uttar Pradesh authorities on Sunday closed Kanpur Zoological Park for visitors for 15 days after the flu was confirmed in dead chicken four days ago. The zoo has also ordered culling of birds.
Also, the sale of meat has been banned within a radius of 10 km from the zoo and the area up to one kilometre has been declared a containment zone.