Fears of the spread of avian flu have long subsided, thanks to the timely and appropriate government measures. However, poultry farmers, it seems, might be down in the mouth. Global economic crisis has precious little to do with the recession in the business of eggs and chickens that has struck with little warning but its fallout is scarcely less hard for the poultry keepers. But it is to the delight of many consumers that the price of chicken meat and eggs has since plunged to a mouth-watering low even as the prices of other foodstuffs continue to soar with any sign of letting up. But chicken-hearted consumers are depriving themselves of this bonanza because the news of an outbreak of bird flu has put the fear of God into them. Chicken and eggs are not selling like hot cakes now even at almost half their earlier prices.

At risk is the economic fate of some 6,000 farmers raising poultry with a total investment of about 12 billion rupees, as well as of the 60,000 employed. Closure of the poultry farms — which may happen if the government did not put its best foot forward to keep the rumour from spreading — might push up our our jobless rate further, which is expected to add to the domestic jobless woes with the return of many thousands from abroad because of redundancy. Considerable damage has already been done. What needs to be done is to localise the infection and restore chicken business to ruddy health.