DR. ALTAF GILANI
Even though Kashmir Valley is famous for its magnificent beauty, at the same time it is also known for some wrong reasons like for example its rumour mill considered to be effective and efficient even in putting waters on fire! A case in point is the recent tittle-tattle spread in the wake of Swine Flu and this time poultry yet again became the causality and the persons associated with this industry as lame ducks were left with no option except to accept the calamity.
The exceedingly non-vegetarian society at once gave up their desire for protein rich, low in fat, affordable delicacy. Much to the dismay of commercial broiler entrepreneurs, in particular whose stocks had already attained viable weight, the produce could not be lifted owing to lack of demand from the supply chain. The retention of stocks at the farm level beyond the predefined stage had technical as well as financial ramifications. The consumption of feed at the farm level increased manifold putting the economy of farmers in jeopardy. Furthermore, the increased weight got lower rates resulting in amplified anxiety to the entrepreneur. Over the days around 7 lakh broilers got jammed up inside the farms, unreasonably. The case in point affected 150 entrepreneurs and their families.
The replacement of stocks received a jolt as the entrepreneurs got indisposed to go for fresh changeover, resulting in halt to the entire enterprise. As the commercial broiler venture sustains a whole gamut of farmers, dealers, retailers and feed manufacturers involving a total of 10000 families who had put in their sweat and blood to harvest the fruit of their hard work, got colossal losses in return. Such sequel would have been acceptable, had there been any correlation between the Swine Flu and the poultry meat consumption. Since the genuine situation was reverse and the fact of the matter brought to the fore by the Medical and Veterinary fraternity, the rumor mongers got a reply, though.
The Poultry Organization of Animal Husbandry Department, Kashmir through its concerted efforts has reached a threshold of achieving self-sufficiency in poultry meat production. The Extension Wing of the Department, as well, tried in hope to clear the qualm. Such fiascos put the whole effort into peril. The prospective entrepreneurs decided against venturing into any such endeavor whose fate depends upon the wishes and whims of few self-centered culpable persons.
Having said all this, it still leaves a question unanswered. Are we as a society mature enough to verify for the facts, ourselves and then act? Have we not learnt from the previous harsh familiarities? Going as per the incidence of such events, a million dollar question remains, why is the poultry industry most of the times, made causality.
But, at the end of the day, there is a silver lining too. The Medical and Veterinary fields are so entwined that in order to sustain the public health, research accentuates on evasion of most of the diseases at the animal level only. More thrust needs to be laid on the safety of animal products and by products. The issue achieves more significance due to non-vegetarian eating habits of the population. It is well established that 75% of all emerging diseases that have affected people over the last two decades have occurred as a result of an animal pathogen moving into the human host, and are therefore classified as 'zoonotic'. Given the numbers of species of hosts, the numbers of species of pathogens, and the ever-increasing opportunities to create new permutations, it should come as no surprise that emerging zoonotic diseases have taken centre stage in public and animal health issues.
To overcome such rumors from flourishing in future, following suggestions are put forth:
The Veterinarians of the State need to be entrusted with the quality control of milk and meat so that only "fit for human consumption" product reaches to the end-user.
Indiscriminate growth in numbers of commercial broiler farms need to be checked and establishment of farms be strictly monitored by the Department for the compliance of all the technical norms.
The farmers need to gear up their bio-security procedures and vaccination protocols so that their birds remain immune to any of the disease threats. These etiquettes need to be got strictly implemented by the field agencies of the Animal Husbandry Department.
Disease surveillance of the stocks be undertaken at regular intervals by the Research Wing of the Department.
Entrepreneurs need to create a brand and assure the consumers that the broilers reared in the Valley are far more superior in quality, in terms of free from disease and more nutritious, than the ones imported from outside.
Scientific slaughter of birds through Poultry Processing Plants be encouraged so that only wholesome meat which is far safer a stuff than it reaches the customer with the marketing practices in vogue.
The author is practicing Veterinarian in Animal Husbandry Department and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.