January 17, 2021 11:09:31 pm
A slight uptake in consumption notwithstanding, rates of broiler and eggs continue to be down as sporadic cases of bird flu continue to be reported from various parts of the country. The industry has protested against the random closure of markets by some state governments, which they feel, leaves a long-lasting effect on their trade.
Since the first week of January, various states have been reporting incidents of bird flu. The first reports were mainly from wild and migratory birds followed by reports coming in of affliction in backyard and then organised poultry, too. At present 10 states, including Maharashtra, have reported positive cases of bird flu. Culling of birds within one km of the epicenter is being carried out to control the spread of the disease.
Even as the central and state departments continue with their efforts to control the spread, the organised poultry industry is reporting a drastic drop in prices of both poultry meat and eggs. The prices of eggs at Namakal in Tamil Nadu – a major centre for layer (egg laying bird) poultry – have fallen from Rs 4.95 per egg on January 1 to the present Rs 4.20. Similarly, consumer centres like Pune (Rs 5.50 to Rs 4.16), Mumbai (Rs 5.45 to Rs 4.25), Delhi (Rs 6 to Rs 4.45) and Bengaluru (Rs 5.10 to Rs 4.10) have also seen a steep decline in egg prices.
Prices of birds raised for their meat, or broiler, have not been different, with the industry reporting a sharp dip since the start of January. Ex-farmgate prices in Pune, which were around Rs 90 per kg, have since then fallen to Rs 55 per kg. Prices in Punjab have corrected from Rs 95 per kg to Rs 50 while those in Karnataka from Rs 100 per kg at the start of the year to Rs 70. A drastic dip of 25-30 per cent in consumption is the main cause for this price slide. This price dip comes at a time when the industry reports robust sales as people turn to chicken and eggs to tide over the winter chill.
Rohit Pawar, CEO of Baramati Agro Limited, said that almost 80 per cent of the 1.3 crore birds and 30 crore eggs consumed in India on a daily basis come from the organised sector, where bio-safety measures are taken care of. “Majority of the cases of avian influenza are reported from wild birds or unorganised or backyard poultry. But the general mistrust has kept consumer sentiments down,” he said. Pawar pointed out that properly cooked eggs and chicken in temperature above 100 degrees Celsius is safe for human consumption. On a positive note, Pawar said they have seen a slight uptake in consumption, which he attributed to consumer awareness.
However, the industry has protested against the trend of some states to stop the transportation of chicken and eggs arbitrarily. M P Satish Babu, Mysuru Zonal Chairman of the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC), cited the example of Delhi, which along with Uttar Pradesh, had stopped the entry of eggs and chicken from outside. “Our intervention had helped in opening up of the Delhi market but the harm was already done,” he said. The Delhi government lifted the ban on Friday after intervention of the Centre. The central ministry of animal husbandry and fisheries has also requested the states not to ban the entry of eggs and chicken. “We hope prices will pick up after the Delhi market opens on Monday,” he said.
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