New Delhi: The animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries ministry is concerned over the low consumption of milk and poultry products due to the lockdown, even though they come under essential services.

Union minister for animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries, Giriraj Singh along with ministers of state, Sanjeev Balyan and Pratap Sarangi, have been taking stock of the situation on a regular basis.

Ever since the lockdown, both the items have witnessed a decline in consumption largely due to supply and demand issues. Initially, many people didn’t buy chicken because of rumours that Covid-19 might spread through poultry.

However, the ministry has been regularly clarifying that there is no harm in having chicken. Post the imposition of the lockdown, poultry shops have remained closed. After receiving complaints, the ministry wrote a letter on March 23 to the chief secretaries of all the states to issue necessary directions to include chicken, egg and meat in the list of essential commodities to be exempted from the lockdown.

“Apart from this, animal feed is also important for animals and birds as farmers need to source fodder regularly. We also wrote a subsequent letter on March 24 to allow movement of animal feed,” Sanjeev Balyan, told ET. “Poultry shops are open now and we are working on every complaint we receive regarding the obstruction in supply. But consumption is still low because of Navratri and might pick up post Ram Navami.” Another big concern of the government is the low milk consumption. “There is an increase of 7-8% milk consumption, but that milk is coming from co-operatives,” adds Balyan. “However, the milk coming from small farmers were earlier consumed by sweet shops mostly. Since shops are closed they are finding it a problem to deal with the extra milk.” The government says that it is difficult to collect data of estimated loss in milk, poultry and fisheries. “People reach us through mail, phone or even we find it out from social media and immediate action is taken to ensure uninterrupted supply of these items,” Balyan said.

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