Haryana’s poultry trade beset by high feed prices

January 13, 2020

HARYANA’s poultry industry, which supplies eggs and chicken to various states, including Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, UP, Rajasthan, Delhi and Bihar, besides Jammu and Kashmir, is in a tight spot due to the rise in feed prices that has led to a higher production cost of broiler chicken and eggs.

Market instability, outbreak of diseases , lack of awareness about disease management, weather effects, high mortality rate, no concessions by the government, high electricity charges and property tax, and low rates of chicken and eggs are the other factors due to which the industry is facing difficulties.

However, the rise in feed prices is considered to be the main culprit. As per poultry farmers, the rates of maize, bajra (millet) and soyabean have shot up in the past 14 months. Maize prices have reached Rs 2,200-2,500 per quintal from Rs 1,200-1,400, while bajra prices have jumped to Rs 2,200-2,400 per quintal from Rs 1,100-1,300 in September-October 2018.

The prices of soyabean are ranging between Rs 3,500 and Rs 3,800 per quintal, up from Rs 2,100-2,300 14 months ago.

Farmers say that despite the peak demand season, most of them are not earning profit. They say several farmers have even quit the trade.

“I have a hatchery on 5 acres and a poultry farm also on 5 acres. The feed prices have increased manifold, due to which the production cost has also risen,” says Dharambir, a farmer of Phoosgarh village in Karnal district.

He says he used to earn profit from poultry farming, but is now suffering losses. “I am getting Rs 4.56 per egg, while last year it was sold at Rs 5.50 each,” he adds.

Dwindling income

Subhash Narwal, president of the Central Haryana Poultry Farmers Association (CHPFA), has a poultry farm on around 3 acres at Chirao village in Karnal. He says it is getting tougher for poultry farmers to survive as the production cost is increasing but the income is going down. “Many farmers in Haryana have already shut their farms. If the trend continues, poultry farmers would not survive for long,” he says.

Surinder Kumar Bhutani, general secretary, CHPFA, says there are around 2,000 small and big layer poultry farms, about 2,500 broiler chicken farms and around 350 hatcheries in the state, which produce around 4 crore birds and about 3.5 crore eggs per day. This industry contributes nearly Rs 7,000 crore to the GDP of the state and provides jobs to around 2.5 lakh people directly or indirectly.

“The feed prices, including maize, bajra and soyabean, have risen in the past 14 months, but the rates of chicken and eggs have not increased as per expectations,” he observes.

The poultry association resents that the government has not extended support. The CHPFA recently apprised Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala of the problems being faced by the industry in Haryana.

“The government is not supporting the poultry industry. We have to pay commercial rates of power. No interest-free facility is being extended to us. We are not getting any subsidy for establishing poultry farms, while the neighbouring states are extending facilities to promote poultry. We request the CM and the Deputy CM to consider our demands so that the industry could get some relief,” says Bhutani, who is also the chairman of the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC), Delhi Zone.

“Once, the business of eggs and chicken was considered a profitable trade, but now it is not. Due to its rich nutritional value, some of the states are serving egg in the mid-day meal. We have requested the state government to initiate this step so that the demand for eggs increases,” he adds.

Taxing time

With the feed becoming expensive and the prices of chicken and eggs remaining the same, several farmers have closed their poultry business and are on the verge of bankruptcy, says Bhutani.

He says poultry farming is part of agriculture, but they have to pay commercial charges for electricity along with high property tax. The Centre is keen to double the income of farmers, but no efforts are being made for poultry farmers, he laments.

“Our products are sold in other states as the consumption in Haryana is very less, but we have to pay market fees in our own state, from which we should be exempted. The government should charge power consumption rates on a par with those of the agricultural sector. The government should also provide grains like maize, bajra, wheat and soyabean at subsidised rates,” he adds.

Volatile market

Another poultry farmer, Sandeep Singh, a resident of Sheikhupura, says the broiler industry has witnessed a little stability in recent weeks after facing several hiccups in the past several months. He admits that the overall increase in raw material cost has increased the cost of broiler production.

“At present, we are purchasing a day-old chick at Rs 15-17 per piece, which is sold after feeding for around 35 days at Rs 80-85 per kg (a chick weighs about 2 kg), while we received Rs 55-60 per kg for the last six months and got a chick for Rs 30-35,” he says.

Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries Sanjeev Kumar Balyan admits that the

production cost has increased due to a rise in the prices of feed. He says the government is working on alternative feed for the poultry sector. “We are also making efforts to increase exports,” the minister adds.