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Covid-19 rumours hurt India’s poultry industry

Speculation is rife on social media platforms in India over possible avian links to the deadly Covid-19 disease. The many rumours associated with the consumption of chicken has put a dent in sales and put the poultry industry in a pickle.

India’s poultry industry has been losing USD $ 1.5 million per day due to lower prices. Since early-January, farmgate prices of broiler birds in Maharashtra have halved, whereas in neighbouring Karnataka, retail prices of poultry have dropped from USD $ 0.67 to USD $ 0.10 in the state.

Chicken sales in India have plumited after Coronavirus rumours. Photo: ANP
Chicken sales in India have plumited after Coronavirus rumours. Photo: ANP

Millions of small poultry farmers across the country are reeling after sales have crashed 80% over false claims that chickens are carriers of the coronavirus. States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh appear to be the worst affected, with farmers resorting to panic sales, and some even going as far as culling chickens.

Amidst cries of help, poultry farmers are seeking government assistance, stating that the Covid-19 crisis appears to be more widespread in India than the bird flu outbreak of 2006, which was restricted to the western part of the country. Despite multipronged efforts from poultry players and the Ministry of Animal Husbandry to douse the rumours and to spread awareness about the safety of poultry meat consumption, the situation does not seem to have improved.