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Kuwait bans poultry products from India over bird flu scare

Kuwait bans poultry products from India over bird flu scare

NEW DELHI: In what could be a major setback for Indian exporters, the government of Kuwait has banned import of poultry products from India over fears of transmission of the H5N1, popularly known as bird flu, virus.

Kuwait’s Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) conveyed the decision in a notification to India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (Apeda).

With a mere 24.19 tonnes valued at $0.12 millions, Kuwait accounts for only 0.1% of India’s overall export of poultry products. “The fear is not Kuwait market per se as it contributes around 0.1 per cent of India’s total exports. But, the actual fear is its spill over impact by other countries in the Middle East like Oman and Saudi Arabia which are really big markets for us. In case, the similar actions are followed elsewhere in the Middle East, India would go out of the poultry exports markets,” said a senior Apeda official.

In value terms, Oman and Saudi Arabia contribute nearly 20% and 7% respectively to Indian poultry products exports. In volume terms, however, Oman commands a nearly 40% share. The ban comes on the heels of the recent H5N1 outbreaks in Tripura in January this year which later spread to Mizoram; this resulted in the culling of thousands of birds. While the government and the health department of these states later declared themselves as free from bird flu virus, it is feared that the governments’ claim may take some time to reflect on the ground. The outbreaks of bird flu in Tripura come after three years; the last outbreak there was reported in 2011, again exactly after three years from its previous one in 2008.

“The government of Kuwait has taken a preventive measure which could be temporary in nature and might be reviewed soon after India government’s intervention,” the Apeda official quoted earlier said, on condition of anonymity.

India has steadily increased its focus in the exports of poultry products. But given the short shelf life of poultry meat and eggs, exports are largely confined to nearby countries with special focus on the Middle East.

Data compiled by Apeda showed India’s total exports of poultry products jumped to 556,698.80 tonnes (worth $106.38 mn) in 2014-15, against 437,673.53 tonnes (worth $92.83 mn) in 2013-14 and 577,864.24 tonnes (valued $91.24 mn) in 2012-13.

Oman is the largest importer with 221,224 tonnes ($22.94 mn) in 2014-15 versus 107,953.71 tonnes ($13.26 million) in 2013-14 and 31,210.33 tonnes ($4.77 mn) in 2012-13. Also, Saudi Arbia proved the fourth largest importer of poultry products import from India its share of 18,740.42 tonnes ($7.77 mn) in 2014-15 in comparison with 14,018.78 tonnes ($7.94 mn) in 2013-14 and 31652.38 tonnes ($8.28 mn) in 2012-13.