Since January 2020, the poultry industry has been facing a series of hurdles: rumours of Covid-19 spreading through poultry last year, effects of the lockdown, the avian flu scare in January this year, and finally the rising price of bird feeds due to the Tauktae cyclone that hit Gujarat in May.
The result is that the retail price of eggs and chicken continue to remain high across Gujarat, even as the second wave of Covid-19 subsides. Currently, eggs that sold in the market at Rs 4 per egg in April are priced as high as Rs 8 in retail shops.
The reason, traders say, is the demand has only increased due to the Covid-19 wave while the trade price at poultry farms is yet to
decline. According to traders, the industry is battling the effects of surging production and transportation costs.
Anvesh Patel, president of Gujarat Broiler Farmers Coordi-nation Committee, told The Indian Express the farm price of eggs is around Rs 5.25 per egg.
Patel said, “By the time it reaches the consumer, it becomes Rs 8 or 9. The weather variation this year has affected the production directly, after all the losses that we suffered due to the Covid-19 lockdown and then the bird flu.”
Patel says that nearly 12 lakh poultry farm birds were culled during the avian flu outbreak in January this year in the cluster of farms on the Maharashtra-Gujarat border.
“These farms have not yet been able to restart their egg production because the 90-day quarantine period following the Avian flu is only about coming to an end now,” Patel said. Layer birds have a lifespan of about 52-75 weeks and produce close to 350 eggs in one year, according to farmers. Once it reaches its age, it is sold in tribal areas at per bird rate.
“The cycle of production of layer chicks is also time-consuming so it will take a while before the production cycle comes back to normal to meet the rising demand due to the ongoing hea-lth and immunity concerns,” says a farmer from Central Gujarat.
According to GBFCC, Gujarat produces and consumes close to 64 lakh eggs per day. The shortage of close to eight lakh eggs from the cluster has caused a little spike in the price. “But the cost of eggs and chicken is mainly high due to the increased production cost… Soya feed, which would cost Rs 36,000 per tonne has been at its all-time high price of Rs 60,000 per tonne since April… Similarly, maize feed which costs Rs 12 per kg has become Rs 18-20 per kg after the cyclone destroyed the crops,” Patel added.
The cost of poultry meat, proportionally, has also increased with retail shops selling chicken meat from Rs 180 per kg (pre-plucking) to Rs 240 per kilo (undressed bird).
Nazim Qureshi of Laziz Chicken and Mutton shop in Vadodara says, “The Tauktae cyclone caused a lot of damage to smaller poultry farms in coastal Gujarat and also some damage to Central Gujarat farms. The effect has directly cascaded to the prices. We are buying the chicken and eggs at a higher price. It is for the first time in my life that I have sold a dozen eggs for as high as Rs 90 at wholesale prices… The prices will take at least another month to settle when the demand reduces during the upcoming Hindu festival months.”
According to Patel, the industry calculated a loss of approximately Rs 284 crore in the first quarter of the financial year 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 curbs.
“This included about Rs 181 crores as losses for broiler chickens and Rs 85 crores as losses for layer chickens and the loss of inventory of feeds and medicines that remained idle in the farms made up the remaining portion of the figure. We submitted the same to the state government seeking some relief but we have lowered our expectations for any aid,” Patel said.
However, Dr Falguni Thakkar, Director of Animal Husbandry department of Gujarat government, poultry industry has not faced any losses.
“The MHA guidelines provided for all necessary measures for poultry to continue its business. For the cyclone, we have a relief package of Rs 5000 for a loss of 1000 birds but we have not received any such complaint from any poultry farmers.” Thakkar also declined that the industry had submitted any report of financial loss during Covid19 lockdown to the state government.
Source: THE INDIAN EXPRESS