The bird flu outbreak in Gujarat and Haryana on Friday took the number of countries affected by bird flu to six, with the Department of Animal Husbandry and the Department of Intelligence urging “unaffected provinces” to monitor any unusual deaths among birds and chickens so that preventive measures could not be taken immediately to monitor the spread of the virus.
The department said samples taken from two poultry farms in Haryana district of Panchkula and migratory birds in Gujarat district in Junagadh tested for H5N8 virus at Bhopal-ICAR-National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (ICAR-NIHSAD). Samples of ravens taken from Saiwai Madhopur, Pali and Jaisalmer of Rajasthan were also found to contain it, indicating the spread of the virus.
Other provinces where bird flu has been confirmed are Kerala, Parliament and Himachal.
Gujarat was given a strong warning after a bird flu was confirmed and the government ordered the closure of four bird sanctuaries – two in Ahmedabad and one in Porbandar and Jamnagar. Livestock Minister Kunvarji Bavalia said bird flu was limited to migratory birds and no case had been confirmed for poultry.
Haryana Animal Development Minister Jai Parkash Daral has announced that birds near Kheri and Ghana in Panchkula villages will be reunited as ICAR-NIHSAD has confirmed bird flu on two poultry farms in Barwala and Raipur Rani. The virus has already killed 4.4 lakh chickens on two farms over a period of one month. The Barwala band is said to be the second largest poultry producer in Asia, living on 122 poultry farms.
Prices for cold poultry in India have fallen by almost three times a week and food shortages have been reported following a bird flu outbreak in six provinces, industry officials told Reuters.
The sudden decline in demand and prices includes the plight of millions of small-scale poultry farmers in the industry that has recently begun to recover from the disruption that led to the emergence of a coronavirus that has plagued sales during 2020.
Uddhav Ahire who is the chairman of Anand Agro group which is a poultry based company in the western city of Nashik said that the demand has dropped by almost around 30.
Prices for cold chickens dropped to 60 rupees ($ 0.8192) a kg from 90 rupees last week, he said, adding that farmers were losing out as production costs were more than 75 rupees.
Avian Influenza which is also known as bird flu, was now reported in the provinces of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala , Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and also in Gujarat earlier during this week.
Central and federal governments have been trying to allay consumer fears, saying the use of chicken and eggs is safe after cooking.
Prasanna Pedgaonkar who is the general manager of Venky’s chicken stocks by seeing the shares drop by more than 10% this week said that the sector could see a temporary disruption, but that thet don’t see this happening in the long run and that they could also fix itself in 15 to 20 days.
Egg prices have also dropped by more than 10% a week as smallholder farmers try to sell their produce very quickly, fearing falling prices, said a poultry farmer who declined to be named.
The Indian poultry industry suffered heavy losses last year due to unfounded media speculation that poultry had contributed to the spread of the coronavirus, while barriers to the virus were tightened in demand.