ALAPPUZHA: The duck breeding hub of Kuttanad is getting ready for a new season of with the arrival of Easter. Despite bird-flu fears, farmers expect brisk business. The Alappuzha-Changanassery highway, flanked by paddy fields, has become a hub of meat sellers. At least 200 shops are now active.
J. Raju, a seller at Mankombu for two decades, is happy that the season brings lots of relief unlike the last couple of years after the avian flu outbreak. "There are signs of a good season," he says. "Gone are the days of lowered confidence and dried up hopes. The Easter rush will be visible in a day or two."
Sellers are buoyed. But not the All-Kerala Joint Duck Farmer's Society. It says ducks from states like Tamil Nadu is ruining their market. "I have reared 8,000 ducks last Easter season. But I was not sure of prospects this time as ducks are coming from outside. So I chose to cut it by half," its secretary Samuel Pallippad said.
"But these days our area is experiencing good movement. Hopefully, the business will get on the track soon." There are 650 registered large scale farmers in Kuttanad and surrounding areas, besides a thousand unorganised small farmers. The Easter injects cheer into them after a lacklustre Christmas and New Year season.
Kuttappan, a farmer whose 15,000 ducks perished in the 2014 bird flu outbreak in Pongapadam, is rearing 10,000 ducks this time. "There is a great hope now," he says. Jose Kizhakara of Ambalappuzha believes people's perception of duck meat has changed.
"The awareness classes on combating bird flu have made an impact," he says.
The district administration has lifted restrictions on sales and movements of the poultry.