Social media rumors about the spread of coronavirus through non-vegetarian food have started bringing losses to poultry farmers in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Especially, chicken and egg consumption in Vidarbha has seen a remarkable decline in the last three weeks as many people have started avoiding chicken, eggs, and meat believing rumors that coronavirus spreads through it.

Dr. Raju Dudhbade of Vidarbha poultry farmers’ association (VPFA) said that farmers are left with no option but to sell full-grown birds at throwaway prices. “Keeping a full-grown bird for a day costs Rs4.5 to a farmer. Small farmers having 500 to 1000 such birds suffer huge losses. Small poultry farmers usually deal with traders. So, they have no option but to sell their birds at low costs to traders,” he said.

Top restaurants in Nagpur, too, said that there’s a drop in chicken consumption.

Maharashtra Animal and Fisheries Science University (MAFSU) came in support of poultry farmers on Monday. MAFSU vice-chancellor, Dr. Ashish Paturkar, appealed to people to not believe any fake news regarding coronavirus.

“Research about the origin, pathogenesis, and epidemiology of coronavirus is presently at a very initial stage. It might have originated through non-vegetarian food but the food practices in China are more responsible for it,” he said, adding, Indian food practices make food free from viruses and bacteria.

“Traditionally, Indian non-veg delicacies are well cooked and full of spices which make our food nearly virus-free. There is no need to curb non-vegetarian food if we are cooking our traditional recipes,” he said.

MAFSU director of research, Dr. Nitin Kurkure, said that the university has decided to create awareness about coronavirus. “Students in all colleges affiliated to MAFSU will soon visit nearby towns and villages to clear these misconceptions. Having good quality non-veg food will keep your immunity intact and maintain fitness levels. This is very important to fight any viral infection. Hence, there is no need to stop eating chicken, eggs or meat,” he said.

MAFSU will soon establish a health center in Nagpur where research on such mutations in viruses will be conducted separately.

Egg prices in Nagpur declined from Rs4.75/piece on January 1 to Rs3.90 on Feb 10.

Chicken consumption in Nagpur came down to 150 tons/day from 300 tons/day in the last 2 weeks.

As consumption has declined, traders are buying fewer birds from poultry farmers

But, farmers must sell off full-grown birds because it is loss-making to keep them at farms

Bird buying rates for traders which used to be around Rs80/Kg in Jan is less than Rs50/Kg in Feb

Poultry farmers stare at uncertain future as they don’t know when rumors will get cleared

According to MAFSU, there is no harm in having well-cooked non-veg food

Eggs, meat, and chicken helps to maintain fitness and improves immunity and should be consumed.

(With inputs from timesofindia)