The state government has decided to lodge an FIR with the cybersecurity cell of Pune police against people spreading rumours on social media platforms linking the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with consumption of poultry meat.
Anup Kumar, Principal Secretary of Animal Husbandry, Marketing and Dairy Development Department said the animal husbandry commissioner has been instructed to take necessary steps in the matter following instructions from Cabinet Minister Sunil Kedar.
According to sources, a delegation from Vidarbha Poultry Farm and Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association (PF&BA) met Kedar in Nagpur Sunday and discussed about a sudden dip in demand for poultry meat following messages purportedly linking it to the novel strain of the virus — death toll for disease has touched 1,665 globally, while over 69,000 people have been infected worldwide.
Prasanna Pedgaonkar, general manager of poultry giant Venkateshwara Hatcheries, claimed sales were down by at least 30 per cent.
This is the second time in the last two week that the industry has sought government intervention in the matter.
Two weeks ago, the PF&BA had lodged a police complaint with Shivajinagar police station against the spread of such “malicious” information on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.
The disease, which has origins in China, was originally zoonotic by nature, that is, spread from animals to humans, but since then have spread from human to humans.
On Sunday, Kumar said district-level offices have already taken steps, including major awareness drives, to dispel rumours linking poultry meat with the spread of the virus.
On an average, 90 lakh-1.1 crore poultry birds, each weighing 2-2.5 kg, are sold in Pune each month, while Maharashtra sees a sale of 3 crore birds in the same period.
Ever since the rumours started to spread, prices of birds both at the farm gate — the price at which farmers sell their market-ready birds — and retail, have seen a significant dip.
In Pune, the farm gate prices have dropped from Rs 65 per kg to Rs 55 per kg, while retail dressed chicken is being sold at Pedgaonkar has also attributed the dip in prices to the hurry displayed by farmers to liquidate their stocks before a further drop in prices.
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