May 31, 2006, Srinagar: Kashmir poultry farmers today heaved a sigh of relief on the firm assurance by minister for Animal Husbandry, Information & Science Technology, Taj Mohi-ud-Din on the withdrawal of the Rs 2 levy being charged on day-old chicks imported into the state. The minister also said the ban on the import of spent hens will continue dismissing the reports that the ban had been lifted as simply canard.
The minister in an informal interaction with the agitating poultry farmersí representatives, whom he invited today to his office, was loud and clear in stating that the government had no intentions to lift the ban on import of spent hens. He said that in the larger interests of the consumers and the fledgling poultry industry of the state, the ban will on the import of culled hens which otherwise are fit for animal consumption that too after proper processing only.
It may be recalled that the state government had imposed a blanket ban on all types of poultry in to the state in the wake of Bird Flu threat in February. The ban on broilers and eggs was subsequently withdrawn after the threat perception about the spread of the dreaded disease had changed.
Some vested interests in Punjab, who had been making a big money from the sale of the spent hens to the gullible consumers in the state, finding the continuation of the ban on import of spent hens as costing them a fortune had tried to provoke the farmers in Punjab. The vested interests hired the services of some goons who physically prevented the flow of poultry feed ingredients (from other states) in to J&K. Responding to the crisis caused by the feed shortage in the state the Chief Minister, Minister for Animal Husbandry, the State Chief Secretary and Commissioner cum Secretary to Government Animal Husbandry took up the issue with the law and order and other authorities in Punjab, who took action against the goons. The minister took a stand on the issue even as some of his cabinet colleagues were interested in dispensing with the ban to overcome the crisis, revealed sources. The minister was proved correct as the Punjab farmers as also the vested interests withdrew the embargo on the flow of poultry feed ingredients in to J&K, added the sources.
Reports said the poultry feed manufacturers of Punjab too had threatened of direct action should Punjab government fail to act in the matter. The Kashmir and Jammu Poultry associations campaigned for nearly three weeks.
The farmers associations as well as the JKVDA have appreciated the personal efforts of the minister in taking due care of poultry farmersí and consumersí interests. They termed some media reports and comments regarding the so called withdrawal of the ban on import of spent hens as mere conjectures and appealed the media to verify reports before publishing the same that amounts to misleading the masses.
Mention to be made that Greater Kashmir made a number of stories highlighting the problems the poultry farmers faced due to non-availability of feed.