INDIA, New Delhi. Since early January, farmgate prices of broiler birds in Maharashtra have crashed to less than a half level.
The Indian poultry industry is fervently opposing allowing any access to imported chicken meat, especially frozen leg pieces, from the US. But it has a more immediate problem at hand, having to do with the novel Coronavirus originating from China and causing estimated losses of $1 bn.
Since early January, farmgate prices of broiler birds in Maharashtra have crashed from over Rs 80 per kg to Rs 30-32 levels, driven purely by fears over poultry meat consumption posing the risk of contracting COVID-19 infection.
Union Animal Husbandry Commissioner Praveen Malik clarifyed, that poultry products have “not been found to be involved in transmission of 2019-nCov (novel coronavirus) to humans so far in any report globally”. He added that past outbreaks of Coronavirus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2002-03 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012-13) or corona-associated common colds “had no involvement of poultry or poultry products world over”.
The strong drop in prices “was entirely thanks to the misinformation campaign via WhatsApp and Facebook. The majority of chicken consumers in India aren’t regular non-vegetarians and they wouldn’t really miss not eating it for a month. In this case, they had a reason, right or wrong, not to consume. The effect of it is, of course, being felt by farmers,” said Srilankeshwar Waghole, general manager of Bhairavnath Poultry Farms Ltd, which operates in Pune and Satara districts.
The coronavirus scare has, in the last 15 days, also impacted egg prices, with average farmgate realisations dipping to nearly half the price.