Poultry market takes hit after bird flu is detected in Kathmandu ValleyOfficials say poultry products from areas other than where the flu was detected can be consumed.
With a bird flu case confirmed in Kathmandu Valley on Saturday, the consumption of chicken has already started declining.
Anil Basnet, founder of online grocery supplier Metrotarkari, said that no order for chicken was received till Sunday afternoon.
“We used to receive orders of around 25 kg on an average every day. But we have not got any order today,” he said. “People might have stopped ordering chicken due to bird flu.”
But it is not just online stores that are not getting orders.
Shailendra Kumar Khadgi, who owns a chicken store in Kalimati, said that the impact of bird flu has gradually started on poultry consumption.
“The demand and price will decline within a few days as bird flu was confirmed in Kathmandu,” said Khadgi, who supplies chicken to hotels and restaurants.
Chicken retailers said that customers have started enquiring about where chickens were brought from.
It is not just consumption of chicken that people are concerned about. They are also fearful about eating eggs.
Urmila Deula who brought a crate of eggs on Saturday returned it to the shop after she heard about the bird flu.
“I thought it’s better not to take the risk since bird flu has been confirmed in the Valley,” said Deula, a resident of Mahalaxmisthan, Lalitpur.
Deula is planning to stop consumption of chicken and eggs and bird meat items for a few more weeks. “I have heard that it can be eaten if cooked well but I have no confidence to give it to my family amid this pandemic,” she added.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development confirmed the bird flu (H5N8) in turkey and duck after a sample test in Central Livestock Disease Research Lab.
The samples were collected from local farmers of Futung, Sanglekhola of Tarkeshower Municipality-7 in Kathmandu.
“Bird flu has not been seen in other places till now but our team is on high alert,” Shreeram Ghimire, spokesperson of Agriculture Ministry told the Post.
The Agriculture Ministry has completely banned the import of livestock that can transmit the disease and intensive inspection is being done for the disease.
With the confirmation of bird flu, the area was taken under control immediately and 1,865 ducks, 622 quails, 32 chickens , 25 turkeys, 542 eggs and 75 kg of feed were safely destroyed.
“Everything in the area was destroyed so there is no chance for the spread of bird flu,” Ghimire said.
According to Ghimire, farmers whose productions were destroyed had been compensated as per the rules. The Agriculture Ministry took a sample after farmers complained about the death of ducks and turkeys.
The ministry has not received any other complaints from farmers after that case.
“Chicken and other poultry products supplied from other places can be consumed,” Ghimire said.
The bird flu seen in Kathmandu does not confirm that infection has come from India, he added.
The Agriculture Ministry had directed strict inspection in quarantine offices and high alert on Nepal-India border areas on January 6. The government directive had come as soon as bird flu was confirmed in four states of India.
Ghimire said that the circular will be effective until further notice.
“There are possibilities of smuggling of chicken and other bird livestock from the southern neighbouring country due to the open border. We have coordinated with local administration, police administration, and all quarantine offices located in border points to be on high alert,” he said.
With that the Ministry thinks that it can control bird flu from entering Nepal as least through checkpoints, he added.
But authorities are worried that as the price of chicken is high in Nepal, there are chances of traders bringing chicken and other poultry through the illegal channels.
Janak Poudel, president of Poultry Producers Association, said that the government has failed to strictly inspect poultry-related products from illegally entering the country despite the ban.
“The situation would not have arisen if the government had strictly increased its vigilance at the border,” Poudel said. “A national-level investigation team needs to be formed to strictly monitor illegal entry of poultry products.”
If such preparations are not started soon to control flu and other diseases, the situation may take a turn for the worse, he warned.
“People will stop the consumption of poultry products due to the bird flu resulting in the overflow of supply and fall in price,” he said.
But other traders do not agree that such a situation may arise.
Junga Bahadur BC of Poultry Market Management Association said that bird flu has been seen in only one place so far and therefore it will not impact the demand and price very soon.
“If the bird flu is not seen in other places then it will not impact sales and consumption,” he said. “Production is already low as it is winter.”