Bird flu threat: poultry industry goes into a tailspin

K. Srinivas Reddy

The 5,000-crore industry in the State heading for a major crisis for the second time this year

Demand for eggs and chicken plummets

Hatching egg price dropped from Rs. 12 to Rs. 6

HYDERABAD: With reports of bird flu reportedly spreading to more areas in West Bengal, the poultry industry in Andhra Pradesh went for a tailspin as demand for supply of eggs and chicken plummeted.

The 5000-crore poultry industry in the State is heading for a major crisis for the second time this year due to fear of bird flu outbreak, with rates of eggs and broiler chicken plummeting drastically.

“At this rate the farmers are in for a major trouble”, rues K. Mohan Reddy, president of Hyderabad Layers’ Farmers’ Association (HLFA). As reports of culling of country chicken in isolated pockets of West Bengal trickled in, the export of eggs to North India came to a grinding halt and the egg prices dropped from Rs. 2.25 to Rs. 1.50 each. The production price of each egg is put at nearly Rs. 1.75 per egg and ‘at this rate the poultry farmer is incurring a loss of 25 paise per each egg’.

Similarly, the farm gate price of broiler chicken dropped from Rs. 45 a kg to Rs. 35 a kg while the production cost worked out to Rs. 42 per kg. “That means we are incurring a loss of Rs. 7 per kg,” Gopal Reddy of Sneha Poultry farm in Hyderabad points out. The egg production in Andhra Pradesh is around 5.5 crore eggs a day, with Hyderabad and surrounding areas contributing more than 1.5 crore eggs a day. More than half of the eggs produced are exported to North India.

Another knock out punch for the poultry industry is the drastic fall in price of hatching eggs. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu supply a majority of the hatching eggs to West Bengal at the rate of Rs. 12 per egg. These hatching eggs are brooded and chicks are produced to be supplied to poultry farms in West Bengal. The hatching egg price dropped from Rs. 12 to Rs. 6.

The bird flu outbreak declared by the West Bengal government and followed by reports of culling of country chicken is viewed with suspicion by the HLFA. While the culling operations are taken up in rural areas of West Bengal, the number of birds culled is highly exaggerated, argues Mr. Mohan Reddy. He says that the number of culled birds is exaggerated to get compensation of Rs. 80 per bird funded by the WHO. “Tell me which village in the country has thousands of country birds? Isn’t it a big scam,” Mr. Reddy asks.