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Poultry farmers on edge amid high input cost

New Delhi, August 5: Poultry farming is losing its allure as high input cost has hit business hard, threatening to render many out of options.

The sharp increase in the price of chicken meat in the retail market and a fall in production has raised the alarm bell among the producers, with the collective blame being pointed towards the unprecedented rise in input costs.

Unconfirmed report suggests that stakeholders from the sector had last week met senior government officials in Delhi, requesting the import of soyabean oil cakes, an important protein source for poultry feed to soften the price rise.

Soybean is a major constituent of the chicken feed and its record-high trade has pushed the input cost upwards. As per estimates, its price has doubled from Rs 21 to as much as Rs 45-50.

The Indian Express, in its report on Thursday, even equated the high input cost with that of branded atta, fearing a further price pressure on the already battered industry.

“We are cutting down on sales and supply of new chicks to our growers. At current input costs, raising birds is a loss-making proposition,”  Dr Shrilankeshwar Waghole, general manager of the Satara-based Bhairavnath Poultry Farms Pvt. Ltd, which sells around 6 lakh broiler birds per month, told Indian Express.

Soybean is used to obtain de-oiled cake (DOC) for feeding the chickens. Media reports have stated that the prices of DOC have risen from Rs 35 per kg in January this year to Rs 97 in July because of the international forces at play.

The Solvent and Extractors Association (SEA) in a recent statement sought to highlight the woes of the poultry farmers against the backdrop of erosion in demand for poultry products at the retail market.

“Many small poultry farmers are finding it very difficult to survive in this difficult time. High input cost of eggs and chicken has also escalated the chicken prices, which is affecting consumers,” it said.

The worries for the industry hasn’t started alone with high feed prices. It began as early as March 2020 when the country went for a general lockdown following the covid outbreak. Unfounded apprehensions about chicken meat consumption and linking it with the spread of the virus exacerbated the crisis for the industry.

Avian influenza in January once again hit sales. But as things looked up, the rising feed prices pushed back the industry to the corner once again.

Currently, the retail price of chicken meat is trading anywhere between Rs 240 to Rs 280.