Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh on Monday, January 11, ordered state governments to not shut down poultry markets or limit sales of eggs or broiler chicken meat in the wake of the avian influenza outbreak that has been confirmed in at least 10 states so far.
"Unfounded rumours about poultry products could have a cascading impact on the rural economy," the minister said.
Bird flu outbreak has been confirmed in Delhi, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh as of January 12.
The outbreak has had a devastating impact on the poultry industry as authorities brought restrictions to contain the spread of the infection. In the last one week, prices of broiler chicken have dropped from around Rs 82 to Rs 58 per kg in Maharashtra, Rs 94 to Rs 65 in Gujarat, and Rs 80 to Rs 70 in Tamil Nadu.
Singh also said that states need not panic as there have not been any cases of bird flu being transmitted to humans in India. Besides, there is no danger of transmission if the meat consumed is properly cooked, he added.
"There is further no proof to suggest that restricting inter and intra-state movement of poultry products was necessary to curb the spread of the disease," Singh stressed. Therefore, he asked states not to take such extreme measures without any scientific evidence.
"Unfounded rumours about the safety of poultry products could have a devastating impact on the poultry industry, and hurt thousands of small farmers all along the sector's value chain," Singh said.
Meanwhile, Maize, used as feedstock for the poultry industry, which was selling at Rs 1,800 per quintal has now fallen to Rs 1,100 per quintal.
"In March, the sector already took a major hit from false rumours that Covid-19 could be spread by meat consumption," Singh said.
Singh also urged the Delhi government to reconsider its decision to shut Ghazipur mandi, Asia's largest wholesale market for chicken.