Explainer: What’s up with chicken prices in Pakistan? | SAMAA

Chicken prices have again been going up across the country. According to the latest reports, a kilogramme of chicken meat now costs around Rs450.

There are a few
reasons behind them, including a surge in bird feed prices, but the major cause is disease outbreaks in
poultry farms.

People in Pakistan are suspecting a Covid-like infection in
chickens these days.

The market is full of unhealthy chickens at present,
according to the Pakistan Medical Association and the Consumers Association of Pakistan.

CAP has even alleged that some retailers were selling dead
chicken on lower rates. A chicken suffering from coryza wears out and
eventually dies, it says.

However, the poultry farm association says it isn’t coryza
but Newcastle disease, which has been reported in the past too.

There are three
types of diseases that experts say are responsible for these outbreaks:

  • Ranikhet
    or Newcastle disease
  • Infectious
    coryza
  • Adenovirus 

SAMAA TV’s Kiran discussed the issue on her show 7se8
Wednesday. The panelists included CAP Chairman Kokab Iqbal and Poultry Farms
Association’s Abdul Maroof Siddiqui.

The CAP chairman rejected poultry association’s statement,
saying it only safeguards its own interests.

“It has never spoken in favour of the public, neither
informed people of the diseases in chicken,” he said.

“When bird flu was first reported, I told them it was
bird flu but they denied. When it was confirmed, then there had been no one to
buy chicken for Rs15 per kilogramme.”

Iqbal accused the poultry association of fooling the masses.

“In the past, the same disease has been reported in the
US,” he said. “But poultry farmers have their stock vaccinated there.”

In Pakistan, he said, poultry farmers don’t pay attention to
it, which is why one diseased chicken infects the whole farm.

Siddiqui admitted that Ranikhet hit poultry farms in the
country and it was intense this time. “Diseases do hit, but the country has
international standard controlled house farming,” he said.

The increase in chicken prices was because of the gap in its
demand and supply, according to Siddiqui.

“The demand has reduced lately, thanks to social media
and electronic media experts who do not even have basic information about
poultry,” he remarked sarcastically. “They spoiled the [minds of]
people.”

He said had chickens been infected to such an extent, then
they would have been dead by now.

Which disease is the
most prevalent?

Newcastle disease is
an infection of domestic poultry and other bird species with the highly
contagious Newcastle disease virus (NDV). It is a global problem in poultry
that presents primarily as an acute respiratory disease, according to the MSD
Veterinary Manual
.

The infection is
caused by the avian paramyxovirus serotype 1 (PMV-1).

Infectious coryza is
an acute respiratory disease of chickens characterized by decreased activity,
nasal discharge, sneezing, and facial swelling that occurs worldwide, according
to the MSD.

The disease, which
affects only chickens, is caused by the bacteria Avibacterium paragallinarum.
It is not a zoonotic disease, which means it cannot spread from chickens to
humans.

Fowl adenoviruses
(FAdVs) cause a variety of clinical diseases that are gaining importance
recently in the poultry industry.

Most common diseases
are inclusion body hepatitis (IBH), hepatitis-hydropericardium syndrome (HHS)
and adenoviral gizzard erosion (GE) that are usually caused by specific virus
types. 

The signs of
adenoviral diseases include anorexia, depression, ruffled feathers, huddling,
and greenish diarrhoea, says the Journal of Veterinary Research.

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