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Bird flu scare hits egg, broiler movement

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NOWHERE TO GO: Kerala-bound trucks carrying eggs from Tamil Nadu held up at Valayar checkpost on the border on Monday. Kerala has imposed a ban on entry of poultry products from other States in view of the breakout of avian influenza in Nandurbar district in Maharashtra. Siva Saravanan
NOWHERE TO GO: Kerala-bound trucks carrying eggs from Tamil Nadu held up at Valayar checkpost on the border on Monday. Kerala has imposed a ban on entry of poultry products from other States in view of the breakout of avian influenza in Nandurbar district in Maharashtra. Siva Saravanan

G. Gurumurthy

Coimbatore, Feb 20

CHICKEN farmers and poultry trade in the country, especially in the South, have begun to feel the after-effects of reports of bird flu in Maharashtra. There has been a drastic fall in offtake of chicken and eggs at retail outlets.

Chicken farms in the poultry heartland of Namakkal, Erode, and Coimbatore are unable to move the poultry products to the market.

The movement has been suspended since morning, following reports of detention of trucks carrying these products to Kerala, which is the major market destination.

Scores of lorries laden with eggs were refused entry at the nearby Valayar check-post.

Stocks not lifited

: Faced with a sharp drop in offtake in a market haunted by the fear of bird flu, most traders did not lift stocks from the farms on Monday.

The Namakkal-based NECC Zonal Committee and the Palladam-based Broiler Co-ordination Committee (BCC) held price review meetings but could discuss little on prices in the face of difficulty in sending the products out to the market and an imminent price crash.

According to sources, the meetings actually ended up deliberating on how to salvage the eggs and broilers in transit and those waiting to be despatched. Both the BCC and NECC have retained last week's procurement prices of Rs 38 a kg (for live chicken) and Rs 1.20 (per egg) for the day too.

Precarious position

: The position of the layer egg producers is said to be quite precarious; unlike broiler producers, who can delay their despatches for a few days, they have to have move shell eggs out of the farm gate every day.

Of the estimated 1.5 crore eggs produced every day in the Namakkal zone, almost one-third gets sold in Kerala.

Kerala is also a major market for the broilers; accounting for 20 lakh of the estimated 50 lakh birds despatched every month.

Sources in the Namakkal poultry trade said about 60 lorry loads of eggs despatched to Kerala had been held up at the border check-posts since last evening as the State Government had ordered that poultry products from Tamil Nadu not be allowed.

Several lorries carrying poultry farm waste such as bird droppings - which are in high demand in Kerala as farm manure - were also held up at the check-posts, the sources said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 21, 2006)
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