ALAPPUZHA: The duck farmers in the district have demanded an immediate suspension of culling by Rapid Response Teams (RRT). They also want the government to disburse compensation immediately as finance minister Dr T.M. Thomas Isaac has promised to issue an order on Monday. They say the culling continued in parts of the district for getting compensation. They also plan a sit-in in front of the General Hospital here on Tuesday. However, the district administration combatting the bird flu outbreak it would continue the culling for another week.
There are six response teams currently in operation in places like Muttar, Cheruthana, Thakazhy and Neelamperoor. Each RRT consists of two veterinary surgeons, two livestock inspectors, two labourers, two helpers, the ward member, two revenue officials and two police officers and they killed 16,452 ducks till Saturday. “We have no idea about how to manage the business if the situation continues," said Samuel Pallipad, secretary, All Kerala Duck Farmer’s Society.
"The culling will only help spread panic among farmers whose livestock still left unaffected by the H5N8 viruses. Even if severe H5N1 outbreak happened in 2014, the culling ended in four days." Meanwhile, hatcheries are on the verge of collapse, as the ban on transporting ducks continue. It has driven their clients away leaving their business to uncertainty. Each nursery breeds up to 20,000 ducklings every year during September–November. Ten hatcheries provide ducklings to the farmers at reasonable rates.
"I really don’t know what would be the fate of the business if the situation continues,” says K.O. Thomas, a nursery owner in Chennithala. The farmers' body wants the sector emboldened by organising all farmers with a proper registration. "Since the duck farming is a supplementary business, many out of the compensation list and many have given up job after the 2014 outbreak. Retaining this traditional business is important. There are some 650 registered large scale duck farmers in Kuttanad and surrounding areas, and the actual number could be over a thousand," said joint-secretary Bency Thomas.
Rapid Response Force teams cull 9,872 ducks
Teams of Rapid Response Force (RRF) set up jointly by the district administration, the Animal Husbandry Department and the Health Department culled 9872 infected ducks at various places in Kuttanad on Saturday. The culling will be continued. V Gopakumar, nodal officer, said the culling was carried out at various places. In Thakazhi Panchayath 817 ducks were culled while in Neelamperooor at least 3788 ducks were confined to flames. In Cheruthana 362 ducks were buried in a scientific way. Apart from this, as many as 5015 ducks which tested positive on Sunday in a one kilometre radius were culled.