MUMBAI, 22 March 2020: As whole world is fighting the Corona virus disease (COVID-19) outbreak which originated from China, it is having a huge impact of Indian poultry sector that is see a drop of almost 50% due to false virus scare.
As per an estimate, Indian poultry sector have recorded an estimated loss of USD 236 million (INR 1750 crore) from beginning mid of January to mid of February.
The sector have seen this huge drop due to fake propaganda on social media, where information are spread that virus spread through consumption of poultry products, which has been reported by various media outlets.
To understand the immediate challenge, AgriTimes spoke to a Mumbai based poultry dealer, who said that prices have dropped to USD $ 0.67 (INR 50 per kg) for broiler, against USD 1.88 (INR 140 per kg). Poultry meat, which was selling for USD 2.69 (INR 200 per kg) have come down to USD $1.21 to USD $ 1.34 (INR 90 to INR 100).
Eggs too have come down to USD $0.04 to USD $0.05 (INR 3 to INR 4) per egg, as compared to USD 0.08 to USD $ 0.09 (INR 6 to INR 7) per egg recorded before the virus struck India. Besides the prices of chicken and eggs, chicken feed prices have also recorded a drop.
No one wants to consume poultry products, as people are told to avoid meat products, a poultry dealer said.
The poultry farmers associations in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have even lodged complaints against the rumor mongers with cyber police.
All India Poultry Breeders Association chairman Bahadur Ali has requested the government to support and provide rescue package to the poultry sector.
He also urged the government to extend working capital to 180 days, against 90 days and requested to announce an interest subvention of 5% loans extended to poultry sector for extension loans for the financial year 2020-21.
In Maharashtra, poultry owners have made a representation to the state government and asked them to support farmers with per bird rate at par with compensation paid during bird flu crisis few years back.
Recently in Karnataka state, a poultry farmer, Najeer Ahmed Makandar in Belgavi buried 6000 chickens alive to avoid the spread of corona virus.
Another farmer said that chicken was earning them USD $ 0.67 to USD $ 0.90 (INR 50 to INR 70) per kg, but ever since the corona virus scare, prices have fallen to as low as USD 0.06 to USD 0.13 (INR 5 to INR) 10 per kg.
Godrej Agrovet managing director, B S Yadav while speaking to a business daily said that lot of misleading posts on social media, especially on WhatsApp, have created a false impression that humans can contract the corona virus through chickens. Because of this, Sales have fallen to around 40 million birds a week from 75 million about four weeks ago.
Other Indian poultry firms including Venky’s have also cited rumors spread by social media for a fall in poultry-related sales.
This is recorded a fall in prices, which has hurt farmers as well, some farmers have already started to cut production, as they can’t afford animal feed and other costs of keeping a large inventory of birds, the media reported citing Yadav.
Indian poultry sector employs more than 1 million farmers and contributes USD $ 16.18 billion (INR 1.2 lakh crore) to the country’s GDP directly. The industry also provides direct benefit to more than 10 million maize and soya agriculture farmers and providing market for soya bean and maize farmers in India.
The sector engages 50 million citizens in direct and indirect employment in poultry production, trade, feed, agriculture crops, logistics, and poultry based products, exports, among others.