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Lens on errant Opolfed kiosks

Bhubaneswar, June 6: Odisha State Poultry Products Co-operative Marketing Federation Limited (Opolfed) has decided to ask its kiosk owners not to use any other names except BMC-Opolfed on their signboards. Those who fail to do so run the risk of losing their licences.

The move comes in the wake of allegations that many of these kiosks had lost their identity as outlets for poultry products by turning themselves into fast food joints. The sale of Opolfed poultry products, which was the basic objective of these outlets, has thus got seriously affected.

According to the agreement signed between Opolfed and the kiosk owners in 1999-2000, the outlet has to sell at least 10kg of processed chicken meat supplied by the federation and 1,050 eggs a day.

Given that there are 54 Opolfed kiosks in the city, collectively they should be consuming at least 5.4 quintals of chicken meat a day. In reality, the daily supply from Opolfed to the outlets is only three quintals or less. However, they are getting the required eggs from the federation.

“The outlets were conceptualised to help sell the poultry products generated by farmers. But now, as they are getting chicken from outside and not using the products from the federation, the farmers’ supply is not finding market,” said Opolfed general manager Prasanta Kumar Biswal.

Agriculture, fisheries and animal resources development minister Pradeep Maharathy had directed Opolfed officials to tighten their grip on kiosk owners because they are drifting away from the pro-farmer objectives and operating as general eateries.

“I have asked Opolfed officials to submit a report on what steps they are taking to ensure that kiosk owners marketed processed chicken meat from the federation. If required, the federation may cancel their licences,” the minister said.

The chicken and eggs supplied by the farmers to Opolfed are processed by the federation and sold to the kiosk owners. So, if they continue purchasing processed meat from the federation, the farmers benefit.

Opolfed officials, however, alleged that the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) was helping the kiosk owners to violate the Opolfed guidelines. “The BMC officials know that the Opolfed kiosks are to operate in an area of 120sqft space provided to them. But in practice, many have extended their outlets occupying larger areas and still manage to get trade licences for that from the civic body. This has to be stopped,” said a senior official.

Head of the BMC licencing section Srimanta Mishra said: “The BMC has no role in this because it simply issues trade licences to traders. If any illegality is brought to our notice by the federation, then we will take action.”

“On at least three occasions in the past, we have asked the BMC to take action against the kiosk owners operating illegally from bigger areas. But it is the civic officials who have to take a call,” Opolfed Kiosk Owners’ Association secretary Manoj Swain told The Telegraph.

On the federation’s claim that their chicken meat supply had to be used by kiosk owners, Swain said: “The federation is no longer getting chicken supply from farmers and purchasing it from the open market. So, the rate is same whether you purchase it from them or from the open market. The ice tray in which the raw chicken meat supply comes from Opolfed is of such poor quality that buyers would not purchase it.”