Christmas-New Year hopes come undone for Kerala's Kuttanad duck farmers

Thousands of birds being culled, but unregistered farmers to get nothing in compensation

Published: 11th December 2021 05:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th December 2021 05:04 AM   |  A+A-

Crestfallen duck farmer Joseph Cheriyan watches his culled birds being burnt by  a rapid response team at Kunnumma near Thakazhi in Kuttanad on Friday, Dec 10, 2021

Crestfallen duck farmer Joseph Cheriyan watches his culled birds being burnt by a rapid response team at Kunnumma near Thakazhi in Kuttanad on Friday, Dec 10, 2021.

Express News Service

ALAPPUZHA: The rapid response teams constituted for the culling of bird flu-infected ducks in Kunnumma ward of Thakazhi panchayat in Kuttanad completed the process on Friday. According to animal husbandry department deputy director Krishna Kishore, 9,038 ducks being reared in the 1km radius of the affected area were culled.

“Some other areas in the region have also reported duck deaths. We are waiting for the collected samples’ test results from the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal,” he said.
More than 8,000 ducks died in Nedumudi panchayat in Kuttanad last week. The department sent their samples to Bhopal for final confirmation of the reasons for their deaths.

Farmers said the delay in the arrival of results from the Bhopal laboratory has created a crisis. “The disease was reported at Kunnumma from November 25 and the samples were sent to NIHSAD on November 30, but the results arrived only on December 9. In that period, many farmers shifted their birds to other regions. This might lead to the disease spreading to other areas,” said P K Krishnan, a farmer from Nedumudi.

Joseph K J, another farmer, said the disease spread is a huge setback for them ahead of the Christmas-New Year festival season. “Farmers rear lakhs of ducks eyeing this festival season. In the open market, a duck which is more than two months old fetches around `350-400, but the department is giving only `200 in compensation for each duck culled.”

Besides, the compensation will be allotted only to the farmers who have registered the number of ducks they are rearing. “The majority of farmers have not registered the number with the department and they face huge losses. As per the government records, 9,000 ducks were culled in Thakazhi, but several thousands more were culled in the region. The officials have not yet counted these,” he added.

The ducks owned by Bennychan Xavier of  Kakkaparambil, P V Babu, Manu Bhavan, and Sumesh Mohan, Mullapurathu in Nedumudi panchayat died last week. Around 21,000 ducks were being reared by these farmers and around 9,000 of them died. The reasons for their deaths have not been ascertained yet. In addition, many farmers rearing ducks in places near Nedumudi are also in a state of fear. 

The district administration has banned the sale of ducks and eggs from nine panchayats, creating a huge crisis for the entire Kuttanad region. The price of ducks has nosedived in the region and those rearing ducks outside the region will also face huge losses in this festival season, farmers said.


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