TN's Poultry industry worst-hit due to Coronavirus

Poultry industry in Tamil Nadu worst-hit due to Coronavirus and avian flu

Representative image.

Fake messages that consuming chicken and egg will spread COVID-19 and outbreak of avian flu in parts of Kerala and Karnataka has hit the multi-crore poultry business in Namakkal and other parts of Western Tamil Nadu.

More than 10 crore eggs are lying at various poultries due to less demand among people, while the selling rate of one-kilo chicken meat in Namakkal has come down drastically to Rs 15 – it is sold at Rs 45 to Rs 65 in the market. Namakkal is a major hub for chicken and egg production in Tamil Nadu.

On Wednesday, the price of egg witnessed a steep fall as the procurement rate was just Rs 1.90 paise – the lowest in 10 years. Insiders say the poultry farms, which is one of the major occupations in Namakkal and neighbouring areas, have suffered losses to the tune of Rs 800 crores since January this year.

Fake messages circulated through WhatsApp and other social media platforms led to drastic fall in consumption of Chicken meat since February and in the past few days, the procurement rate of eggs also witnessed a steep decrease, they said.

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Even as the poultry farms were incurring losses due to the “misinformation”, the outbreak of avian flu in Kerala and parts of Karnataka has compounded their woes.

“No steps were taken to bust the fake theories that consumption of chicken meat will spread coronavirus. The procurement rate of chicken meat came to a new low in February and the trend hasn’t reversed yet. If things continue this way, we might incur losses to the tune of thousands of crores,” A K P Chinraj, Namakkal MP and President of Tamil Nadu Poultry Farmers' Association told DH.

He estimated that the poultry industry has lost nearly Rs 800 crore since January. Chinraj explained that the losses suffered by those owning broiler chicken farms would be much more as the volume is big when compared to eggs. “One kg of chicken meat is procured only at Rs 15 here and the farms incur a loss of Rs 58 per kilo which is huge. Unless the government steps in, we can’t run the show for long,” he said.

Though the government and doctors have ruled out any connection between the consumption of chicken and eggs and COVID-19, the consumption hasn't picked up as yet.

National Egg Coordination Committee Chairman P Selvaraj told DH that more than 10 crore eggs are lying at various farms in Namakkal and surrounding areas due to the decrease in demand. “We suffer a loss of Rs 2 per egg as procurement rate is just Rs 1.90 though it is sold at Rs 3.50 in markets. If the owners suffer a loss of Rs 2 per egg, how do we survive?” he asked.

He claimed Rs 10 crore is being lost every day as crores of eggs remains in poultry farms. “The avian flu is also causing problems for us but since there are guidelines to prevent the outbreak, we know what to do. But with Coronavirus, without any proof, much mud had been thrown at the products leading to losses for manufacturers,” Selvaraj said.

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