ALAPPUZHA: The outbreak of bird flu and the death of thousands of ducks and ducklings in the area have overturned the economy of Kuttanad.
Reports on Monday said that hundreds of farmers in Upper Kuttanad, actively engaged in duck farming for years, are going to be affected with the sudden spread of the disease.
According to the farmers, the expected market slash will affect them and the economy in general. The Animal Husbandry Department reported that more than 5 lakh ducks have been reared to meet the upcoming X’mas and New Year Market, but the epidemic is feared to bring down a sudden fall in the market.
Many of the farmers have been affected badly, and Kuttappan, a farmer from Kuttanad, has been one among them. He is reported to have bought 15,000 ducklings at Rs 19 each.
The ducklings, however, had completed just 84 days when they all died.
According to farmers, symptoms of the decease start with losing of sights. Then they stop taking food and start dousing, sometimes plunging into water.
The farmers, however, inject health vaccines after 30 days and another against heart failure after 45 days. Still one more is given when the ducklings attain 62 days.
More than Rs 125 is being spent on each duck before they reach the saleable age, said Kuttappan.
While a farmer fetches between Rs 200 and Rs 250 for a single duck, it is sold between Rs 400 and Rs 450 in the open market.
Based on the data furnished by the Animal Husbandry Department the loss to farmers this season in Kuttanad is estimated at Rs 12.5 crore, and the market is losing almost Rs 21.4 crore.
According to reports, chicken sale will also get hit by the outbreak suspecting it may have spread to chickens too. A department official said that the market is going to be dull for all bird meats, including chicken and kada as well as eggs.
There used to be a large market for eggs, each costing Rs 5 to 7.30. Growers rear ducks for eggs first and later sold for meat. However, the present outbreak of bird flu will affect the egg market too, it is feared.