Shortage of eggs to hit noon meals in schools

May 20, 2019

BHUBANESWAR: With cyclone Fani destroying thousands of poultry farms and killing lakhs of birds across 14 districts, Mid Day Meal (MDM) in schools is likely to be affected as the State is staring at acute shortage of eggs.
Fani was the biggest-ever disaster for poultry sector in Odisha as 41,62,923 poultry birds perished in the cyclone. Around 18 lakh birds had been killed in Phailin in 2013 and 20 lakh perished during super cyclone in 1999.

Since 58,780 Primary and Upper Primary schools in Odisha serve rice with egg curry twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday, the State requires 90 lakh eggs every week for MDM scheme.
The daily domestic production of eggs in the State before Fani was around 45 lakh per day against the requirement of 65 lakh. The rest of the eggs were procured from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Sources said the agencies involved in MDM will feel the pinch once the schools reopen on June 16.
With prices of broiler chicken and eggs skyrocketing due to scarcity of birds, schools, Self Helps Groups (SHGs) and other private agencies managing the noon meals fear they will have to spend more to meet the requirement.

While chicken is priced at `200 to `240 in the market, egg is being sold at `8 per piece. The daily ration cost per student is fixed at `4.58 in Primary Schools and `6.83 in Upper Primary Schools. “Is it possible to buy an egg at `8 per piece and provide meals to students at `6.83 which includes the cost of potato, spices for the curry, fuel and rice? We are apprehensive whether the cost of eggs will remain same or escalate as production has come down post-Fani. If the cost increases further, we will have to provide eggs once a week to students,” said Muralidhar Nayak, a teacher.    

MDM State nodal officer Gangadhar Sahoo admitted that the scarcity of eggs will have a bearing on the scheme but said it is up to the agencies to decide whether they will depend on the production in Odisha or procure it from other States to manage the crisis.
According to the latest damage assessment reports, over 3,000 broiler poultry units, including around 2,000 small farms, were damaged in the cyclone with Puri and Khurda being the worst-hit districts.
Secretary of Fisheries and Animal Resources Development department Vishal Gagan said as per preliminary estimate, the poultry industry has suffered a loss of more than `200 crore.  

Meanwhile, the State Government has announced to provide compensation of `5,000 to each poultry firm besides an assistance of 75 per cent subsidy, limited to `one lakh per unit of 500 birds, for revival of 2,000 broiler units. It has also decided to extend livelihood support to 30,000 farmers, mostly Women SHGs through backyard poultry in the affected areas.