By Manoj Pathak
Patna, March 19 (IANS) Amid rumours that coronavirus can spread through poultry products, especially chicken, the business in the state has nearly collapsed.
According to an estimate, thousands of crores of rupees have been lost in the state. And with each passing day, the situation is becoming difficult for those who are in the trade. There is a growing fear about defaulting loans and other payments.
Ravi Shankar Nath Tiwari, director of the Champaran Agro firm based in Harnatand, West Champaran, said that chickens are produced on a large scale but this time the rumour surrounding the spread of the virus has destroyed all the business. Tiwari said that it costs about Rs 24 to prepare a chick. And with no one buying them, over one lakh chickens were buried in the ground.
He said, “It costs about Rs 80 to prepare a broiler chicken, but the sale has stopped because of the rumour. Businessmen started selling each chick for as low as Rs 10-30.”
Ravindra Singh, chairman of the Hajipur Oval Agrotech Private Limited in Vaishali district, said chickens were being sold at around Rs 35 per piece till January. The sales, however, have came to a halt after February.
Singh said that the collapse of the poultry business was also impacting the corn market as the grain made to feed the chicks contains 60 percent corn.
He said “Lakhs of people are involved in the poultry business in Bihar. From my company, various kinds of grains are made for feeding the chicks. Usually the quantity produced is around 15,000 tons per month. But, in March the sale was around 1,000 tons only.”
Naval Prasad, who is associated with the poultry business in Patna, said that till January, two lakh chickens were produced every month, and were sold for Rs 34 to Rs 36 each. “But, now there is no rate, nor is there any buyer. He said that today the situation is that the chicks were being killed and buried in pits after no customers were found. The market has just collapsed,” said Prasad.
In Arwal, chickens were given free to people after customers did not come for days.
The poultry farm owners also do not have the money to get the grains for the chickens and keep them alive. Jitendra Singh, a poultry farm owner in Khokhari village of Arwal, said that his poultry farm still had more than 10,000 chicks and in the absence of customers they were distributing them free of cost.
People who are associated with the poultry business said, “Rumour is being spread through the social media that people eating chicken or eggs will get the virus, and due to this people are now avoiding eating chicken. “
Indradev Ranjan, the Civil Surgeon in Vaishali, said that it is a rumour. “There is no prohibition to eating chicken, eggs or fish and neither has the government said so. So far, there is no proof of any connection.”
Subhash Jha, a doctor at the Patna Medical College Hospital, said, “There is no evidence anywhere that eating chicken can spread the virus. But, now as the awareness about the facts is spreading through social media, people have started taking to eating chicken.”