The avian flu scare has changed the fortunes of the mutton and beef sellers in Kerala, as the chicken sales have been severely hit in the past few days. They are under the process of making some quick bucks as the sales of the red meat have gone up in a dramatic fashion.
The mutton and beef sellers had seen their sales fall late last year after chicken shop owners launched a malicious campaign against consumption of red meat after anthrax was reported in Tamil Nadu.
The red meat sellers had then organised press conferences across the state and beef-eating campaigns at a few places to highlight the point that there was no problem in Kerala of anthrax - an acute infectious disease that occurs in herbivores and can be transmitted to humans.
"The sale of red meat products has gone up in the last two days. Now we are having serious shortage of this meat because most of it comes from Tamil Nadu. We are selling beef at around Rs.80 to Rs.90 per kilogram. If the shortage continues, we will have to increase the price," P. Johnny, secretary of Meat Merchants Association, told IANS.
The price of mutton, which stands at Rs.170 per kg, is expected to go up by Rs.10 in the coming days as serious shortage of goats has been reported across the state.
Following the reports of avian flu chicken sales have dipped, especially in hotels.
K.K. Ramanan, secretary of the Kerala Poultry Farmers Association, said business was very dull now. "Since the reports of avian flu surfaced our lives have become miserable."
"On an average we sell Rs.50 million worth of chicken every day and Rs.30 million worth eggs. Yesterday, the sales of both dropped by 60 percent. We are meeting the chief minister and other ministers to come out with a statement that since there have been no reports of any bird flu cases in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, there is no problem," said Ramanan.
The association is meeting at Kochi on Monday to decide on the future course of action and has planned massive chicken feasts at Kozhikode, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.
"The exact dates would be announced on Monday," said Ramanan.
The state government has closed eight entry points on the Kerala border to all poultry imports from Maharashtra. Imports from Tamil Nadu continue but with stringent checks. Chicken prices have dropped from Rs.51 to Rs.39 per kg.