Bird flu may shut down backyard poultry farming in India
The National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) in India has called on the government to temporarily halt all projects and programmes for backyard poultry farming, especially in the eastern sector where India shares a border with Bangladesh, in an attempt to save the poultry industry from the bird flu crisis.
The NECC said recurring declarations of bird flu in a few backyard poultry farms in some remote corners of the country are causing enormous damage to the entire poultry industry. The group added that bird flu has "jeopardised the livelihood of millions of people dependant on this industry, decelerating the growth of the industry, and, adversely affecting the national plans for eradication of malnutrition and achieving nutrition security."
Pointing out that backyard farming accounts for less than two percent of the industry in general and 5 percent or more in the eastern part of the country, NECC members said that it is not even a significant source of income to the rural households that rear a small number of birds. Yet, the occurrence of bird flu has also affected the entire organised sector which accounts for 98 percent and is technologically one of the most advanced in the world, said NECC.
Apart from bird flu, the NECC also said that for three years, the Indian poultry industry and small farmers in particular, "have been facing one crisis after another, due to various reasons beyond their control - an unprecedented increase in the cost of essential feed ingredients corn and soymeal, and recurring incidences of bird flu in backyard farms in some states."
After the first outbreak of bird flu in Maharashtra in 2006, the industry lost Rs11,000 crores due to a steep fall in farm-gate prices and suspension of egg exports. Subsequently the bird flu occurrence in Manipal and again in West Bengal in January has resulted to a loss of at least Rs3,000 crores due the ban on movement as well as distressed prices of eggs entering into West Bengal.