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NECC accuses Walmart of bird flu scare to damage Indian poultry

By Staff
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Pune, Apr 15 (UNI) National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) Chairperson Anuradha Desai today charged United States' retail major Walmart with having hatched a conspiracy to undermine the Indian poultry industry by spreading the bird flu scare.

Addressing a press conference after meeting Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar here, she alleged repeated reports of outbreak of bird flu point to a lobby at work, adding Walmart was looking at marketing their chicken outlets in the Indian market.

Claiming there is was confirmed case of bird flu in the country as being made out, Ms Desai questioned the authority of multiple officials reporting one outbreak after the other in Jalgaon. Some time it is the Municipal Commissioner, other time it is the district Collector and then an unauthorised official have been reporting outbreak of deadly disease," she said, adding she would not be surprised if another outbreak of H5N1 virus was reported soon from Jalgaon.

The scare has caused a loss of Rs 8,000 crore to Indian poultry industry and seven farmers have commited suicide, she said.

"Nearly 15 million poultry farmers have been directly and indirectly affected by the loss to the industry, including soya and maize growers." Ms Desai, who also runs Venanteshwara Hatcheries here, said ''If our industry does well we will become world leaders in the production of eggs and chicken''. She pointed out chicken is selling at four dollars a kilo in United States as against Indian chicken being sold at Rs 30-40 per kg. '' We are second to Brazil in chicken and egg production, as we are producing 13 crore eggs and one crore kg of chicken daily. Our worry is that this is a livestock with a cycle of 35 days, but the birds need fodder or else they will die due to starvation.'' The NECC chairperson demanded a ban on purchase of anti-flu vaccine, alleging it was this vaccine which has introduced the disease in the country. The birds may be culled but not vaccinated as then the problem may become an epidemic, she added.

She also suggested zoning of the industry for its growth.

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