April 7, 2020
India's poultry sector suffers INR13,000 crore loss
The poultry industry of India had suffered INR13,000 crore losses over the past month and the number was rising due to misconceptions that COVID-19 was being transmitted through poultry consumption.
A letter from OP Choudhary, joint secretary, Union Animal Husbandry Ministry urged states to start a vigorous campaign to stop misinformation and save poultry farmers during the crisis.
On Friday, union minister Maneka Gandhi said, "I have checked with concerned ministers of these departments, and they have denied giving any such orders. This is a suo moto letter written by the joint secretary and does not convey the government's intent," said Gandhi.
Choudhary, who is also the chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India, said he had received verified videos from north India, Maharashtra and Telangana of farmers burying live birds. "No scientific body has found any evidence of the virus transmitted through poultry products. They are immunity boosters. This negative perception is dangerous. Relief measures are being planned to revive the industry," he said. A member of the Poultry Federation of India claimed losses stood at INR22,500 crore for the entire lockdown period.
Meanwhile, animal welfare groups said they challenged contents of the letter before the Prime Ministers' Office, and will be approaching the Supreme Court. "The secretary cannot dictate what people should eat. Such directions, if needed, are issued by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India," said Gauri Maulekhi from People for Animals.
"In India, there are filthy and dirty meat markets with slaughter practices that do not comply with food safety standards. Such areas are hotbeds for the emergence of infections," Maulekhi added.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India said globally and in India people were beginning to value other forms of food and changing eating habits.
"Different types of animal farming are linked to the emergence and spread of novel zoonotic diseases. To avoid a future pandemic, we need to act on scientific facts about how new viruses come from factory farming and live markets. The science is clear. Unless we act now on intensive confinement in the rearing of animals for food, no future pandemic could be ruled out and more are likely," said Dr Manilal Valliyate, veterinarian and PETA India's chief executive officer.