ALAPPUZHA: If you are planning to taste your favourite Kuttanadan duck curry this Easter, there’s no guarantee that you get the original. Sellers procure them from Tamil Nadu at low cost and profiteer. Now large flocks are awaiting Easter buyers all the way into the interiors of the district.
Though Easter is a couple of days away, they are doing brisk business, and the price has shot up to `300-320 a kg. Customers prefer varieties like Chara and Chemballi, the Kutt-anadan ducks. However, the TN-bred duck varieties like Kazhuthala and Ara-ani are sold as local variety. Bensy Thomas, a farmer, says retailers get them at `100 to 130 a kg.
The TN farmers who get subsidised feed and rice sell them at `50 and still get reasonable returns. “As harvesting started late this season, TN ducks will fill the shortage,” he said. But retailers say it’s not a new phenomenon, and it has, in fact, come down this year as local availability has also gone up. “If local breeds are made available to farmers at a reasonable rate, the flow from TN will stop,” said J. Raju.
In 2004, scientists identified Chara and Chemballi survive only in Kuttanad. They lay about 220 eggs a year and weigh a kg or above. Thankachan Kaitharam who bred 10,000 birds this season said the imports are mostly from Madurai, Tirunelveli and Nagercoil.
“They are available on the Alappuzha-Changana-ssery Road, and customers are mostly Kottayam and Pathanamthitta bound," he says. Jobi Sebastian of Kannadi felt the meat and bones of Kuttanadan ducks harder and tastier. Many “Kuttanadan ducks” sold in nearby districts could also be from TN.
Animal husbandry officials say the government policy is to conserve traditional products. So many farmers rear local duck in TN and bring back here during the season.
“It’s local governments which have to take action," an official said.