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Center tells to States don’t close down or limit sales of poultry products

Bird flu Center urges states not to close down markets

In the midst of an outbreak of Bird flu that has affected 10 states so far, the Centre has urged state governments not to close down poultry markets or limit sales of eggs or broiler chicken meat.

There is no need to worry because there have never been any instances of bird flu being transmitted to humans in India, and if the meat is properly prepared, there is no chance of such transmission, Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh told reporters on Monday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that if chicken products are cooked at a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius or above, the virus will be killed at that heat.

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Alleging that baseless rumours about the safety of poultry products could have a serious impact on the poultry sector and harm thousands of small poultry farmers along the value chain of the market, Mr. Singh urged states not to take such drastic action without any scientific evidence.

Specifically, the Minister called on the Government of Delhi to reconsider its decision to shut down Ghazipur mandi, the largest wholesale chicken market in Asia, and said that he had written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on the problem. There is also no indication that it is necessary to limit the inter- and intra-state transportation of poultry products, he added. Five states have so far issued such prohibitions, including Delhi.

According to Gulrez Alam, a director of the Indian Broiler Company, ex-farm gate prices of broiler chicken have decreased from a national average of ₹ 85-90 per kg to ₹ 55 per kg since January 3, when the current avian flu outbreak started. Sales fell 50 percent, he said.

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Mr. Singh noted that maize, which sold at about ₹1,800/quintal, has now fallen to about ₹1,100/quintal. Maize for the poultry sector is used as feedstock. The sector had already suffered a big hit in March from false rumours that COVID-19 could be transmitted through meat consumption, the minister added.

Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand joined the list of states affected on Monday, bringing the total number to 10. Mr. Singh stressed that only in Kerala and Maharashtra have positive samples been confirmed officially in poultry industry, while the other States have only recorded confirmed cases among migratory birds, wild fowl and crows. He said the closure of several parks in Delhi where migratory birds were found dead was a welcome step, but there was no need to close the markets for poultry.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi also encouraged unaffected states to keep a constant vigil in his meeting with Chief Ministers, particularly in the water bodies, zoos and poultry industries.

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