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Saudi Arabia suspends poultry imports from India amid bird flu in Karnataka

Saudi Arabia contributes 3 per cent to India's annual poultry exports of $80 million

Dilip Kumar Jha  |  Mumbai 

Saudi Arabia suspends poultry imports from India amid bird flu in Karnataka

has imposed a temporary suspension on import of and in any form from India due to avian influenza outbreaks in some districts of Karnataka.

The Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) said in a notification that the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture of had imposed a temporary import suspension on all live birds, hatching and chicks from India due to avian influenza outbreaks.

Although contributes a mere 3 per cent to India’s annual exports of $80 million, exporters fear similar reactions from other importing countries. Oman leads with 38 per cent share in total exports, followed by Maldives (9.3 per cent) and Vietnam (7.6 per cent).

“India is considered as one entity in terms of farming. Hence, importing countries suspend purchase of products from the entire nation in case of (highly pathogenic) avian influenza outbreak in a small town. Since India’s overall exports is a very small portion of its industry size, the import suspension by is not going to have any impact on and eggs,” said Balram Yadav, managing director, Godrej Agrovet, one of India’s largest players in products and feed.

Owing to repeated outbreaks of the virus, India’s exports have declined over the last two years. After sustaining above $100 million for two years, exports declined to $79.31 million in 2016-17. exports in the April-December also declined by 0.5 per cent to $59 million. However, in rupee terms, exports declined 4.27 per cent to Rs 3.81 billion from Rs 3.98 billion in the corresponding period last year.

Saudi Arabia suspends poultry imports from India amid bird flu in Karnataka

“Suspension by any country normally has a cascading effect on other countries. We fear similar suspension by other countries,” said a senior industry executive.

Experts, however, have urged the government to segregate the country's industry into separate zones to enable exports from other regions in case of outbreaks. They said segregation would not hamper exports of products from India.

The size of India’s industry is estimated at around Rs 1,000 billion, of which exports comprise 3-4 per cent. makes up for only 0.12 per cent of India’s industry, according to Yadav.

Some birds were reported to have died due to avian influenza in Bengaluru in January. Normally, outbreaks take place due to sudden climate changes.

Ramesh Khatri, president of the Federation of India, however, blames non-governmental organisations' (NGOs') influence on government policies. “These foreign-funded NGOs do not want industry to grow. They keep creating panic by declaring avian influenza outbreaks in certain farms. There has been no such outbreak in my view, and hence the temporary suspension on their import into is unwarranted,” he said.

The Centre has been planning to frame stringent guidelines under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960, for farms, based on recommendations of the Law Commission to prevent use of battery-cages.

First Published: Thu, March 01 2018. 00:40 IST