On Tuesday, Shiv Sena MPs met Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to discuss the crisis in the poultry sector amid the novel coronavirus crisis. According to Lok Sabha MP Arvind Sawant, they discussed the reduction in demand for poultry products. They requested the Centre to provide immediate financial assistance to poultry farmers in Maharashtra. Earlier, the All-India Poultry Breeders’ Association sent a memorandum to Sitharaman appealing for loans to bail out poultry farmers.
.@ShivSena MPs had meeting with Hon. @FinMinIndia Smt. @nsitharaman ji regarding massive crisis in #poultry sector due to #CoronavirusOutbreak & reduction in demand. Requested Central Govt. to provide immediate financial assistance to poultry farmers in Maharashtra. @AUThackeray pic.twitter.com/1Guf5DYFyG— Arvind Sawant (@AGSawant) March 17, 2020
As per reports, the sales of the Indian poultry sector which includes products such as chicken, meat, and eggs declined by over 50% in February. The sharp fall in demand is being attributed to the rumours on social media that the novel coronavirus can spread through poultry. Recently, a delegation of poultry owners met NCP chief Sharad Pawar and the Maharashtra Animal husbandry Minister Sunil Kedar. They demanded a revival package to compensate for their heavy losses. Reports suggest that the poultry sector in Maharashtra has incurred a loss of nearly Rs.700 crore.
The Maharashtra government has taken a number of steps to deal with the novel Coronavirus pandemic. On March 13, CM Uddhav Thackeray declared COVID-19 as an epidemic by invoking the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act. Moreover, he stated that gyms, swimming schools and theatres in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Nagpur, Pimpri-Chinchwad would be closed till March 30. A day later, the government confirmed that all schools and colleges in urban areas besides malls will be shut till March 31.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on March 15, according to sources. The PM and Thackeray deliberated on the measures to tackle the menace of the novel coronavirus. Currently, Maharashtra has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country at 41 besides one death reported in Mumbai.