Coimbatore, April 20
A delegation of poultry producers and farmers from Tamil Nadu, which met the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, and officials of the ministry, on Thursday were assured that the Government would consider releasing five lakh tonnes of maize at subsidised rate.
The assurance was made due to the recent distress caused by the avian flu scare, which severely affected the marketing of the poultry products, including eggs and live chicken. The Government has, however, not indicated when the subsidised maize supplies would be made available to the poultry industry, according to Mr Valsan, Secretary, Namakkal-based All-India Poultry Products Exporters Association (APPEA).
Mr Valsan said the members of the delegation, which consisted of the poultry trade, feed manufacturers and farmers rearing the poultry birds, were also assured by the officials from the Department of Animal Husbandry and the Agriculture Minister that the ministry was also considering the poultry industry's request for releasing the rice and wheat stocks held in the government's stocks that are not fit for human consumption for the use of the poultry feed. Besides Mr Pawar, the delegation also met the Secretary, Animal Husbandry Department, Mr P.M.A. Hakim, joint secretaries in the department, Mr Aravind Kaushal and Ms Upma Chaudhary, and the Commissioner, Animal Husbandry Department, Dr S.K. Bandyopadhyaya.
Avian flu-free status
According to Mr Valsan, the Union Animal Husbandry officials had sought for the disease surveillance reports from the Tamil Nadu government to enable the Centre to declare the Namakkal poultry zone as the `avian flu free' region. The surveillance report together with the reports collected by the State Animal Husbandry Department from the tests samples periodically sent to the high security animal disease laboratory from Bhopal would be sufficient enough for the Centre to decide on the avian flu free status of a zone as per the OIE norms, he said.
The Tamil Nadu-based poultry industry and the State Poultry Farmers Association have been demanding the Centre to announce the State as "avian flu" free zone to enable the exporters recommence shipment of layer eggs and poultry meat.