The rising concern over consuming chicken and other poultry products due to bird flu scare, coupled with skyrocketing meat prices, have prompted public in the district to turn to the fish markets, catapulting the fortunes of fish sellers.
After a lull of a couple of months due to the Karthika Masam and Dhanurmasam (November-mid January), when there was a decline in non-vegetarian consumption, the markets are seeing a steady rise in buyers again.
But with the bird flu outbreak in the country and many States sounding an alert, the public is apprehensive about buying poultry products. The price of goat or sheep meat has also touched a high of ₹740 a kg, leaving no option for them but to go for fish. And much to their satisfaction, the fish prices remained normal as were before the festive season. Several varieties of tank fish stood at ₹140 a kg.
The fish markets at Tirupati, Srikalahasti, Chittoor, Puttur, Nagari and elsewhere in the district saw huge crowds on Sunday.
Babu Reddy, a fish vendor in Puttur, said that a number of tanks in the eastern mandals received good inflows after bountiful rain in the last six months. Rearing fish in all tanks is under brisk progress, he says. “We have almost all varieties of tank fish available now. The situation is expected to continue for several months. We find no need to increase the prices, though we can take advantage of the bird flu threat.”
‘Goat meat too pricey’
Uday, a police personnel in Tirupati, said that the price of mutton at ₹740 a kg is too much for a common man. “We find from a cross section of consumers that post the COVID-19 crisis, the purchasing power of several segments has come down. The bird flu scare has played the role of a catalyst to support fish markets. Moreover, dieticians too concentrated on protein-rich food.”
Meanwhile, the chicken prices continued to remain at ₹150 a kg, despite a drastic fall in number of takers. “The plight of poultry for the current season would be clear in the next one week. Till then, the orders could be balanced to maintain the present tag,” said a chicken shop owner in Chittoor.