Broiler poultry farmers across the State are demanding a sustainable package to revive the poultry sector.
Increase in cost of feed and other inputs, avian flu threat, market competition from nearby States, COVID disruptions and seasonal and climatic challenges affect the profitability of the farmers.
Around 7 lakh poultry farmers and entrepreneurs are involved in broiler poultry production in the State. Annually, the broiler sector is running on profit for around six months and during the rest of the six months, the sector is under loss, says Binny Immatty, State President, Poultry Farmers and Traders Samiti. The price rise of chicks adds to the cost of production.
“Widespread propaganda on use of hormones and antibiotics in broiler production misleads the consumers and affects the market of chicken. As per recent research findings, hormones are not used in chicken. Across the State, safe to eat production practices are acquiring momentum,” he pointed out. Such propaganda will hit the poultry farmers who struggle for survival.
Kerala contributes 4.38 % of the national broiler poultry production in the country. Per capita annual consumption in the country is 3.1 kg where as it is 10 kg in Kerala. It is estimated that Kerala requires 50,000 tonnes of poultry meat per month. Of which, 40,000 tonnes is produced in the State. The rest is met by supply from nearby States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
National statistics reveal that the livestock and poultry sector together contribute 26 % of the total agriculture GDP. Of which poultry sector contribution is around 16 %.
Farmers complain that the poultry sector comes neither under farming nor industry.
“Kerala chicken, a project promoted by the State government, which has only around 1 % of the market share in the State has been given around ₹60 crore as subsidy. But 99 % of poultry farmers are not getting any subsidies or assistance from the government. Due to heavy subsidies, Kerala chicken used to sell chicken at reduced prices. But the other poultry farmers can’t afford to reduce the price. Poultry traders from nearby States explore the situation,” said T.S. Pramod, secretary of the Poultry Farmers and Traders Samiti.
The poultry farmers demanded that the price of broiler chicken must be decided by a platform of south Indian States. While fixing the price of chicken, periodic increase in cost of production needs to be taken into account. A chicken price index needs to be developed based on feed price, they demanded.
“Broiler farming can be made lucrative in the State with the scientific interventions. All broiler farmers require appropriate funding support in the form of subsidies to counter the increase in cost of production. At a time food safety issues are emerging across the State, the government needs to fix benchmark standards based on the Food Safety and Standards Act for good processing and retail practices. Poultry farmers require common facility centres and central funding through different projects, which include cold chain projects, animal husbandry Infrastructure development projects and farmer producer organisations, etc,” said the Samiti. They also demanded a minimum support price for chicken and eggs.