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18 Oct 2019, Edition - 1557, Friday

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Coimbatore

High feed price, egg surplus leave Namakkal farmers worried

Umaima Shafiq

The famed Namakkal egg industry is facing losses due to an egg surplus, leaving farmers on the broil over the issue of feed price rise

Namakkal’s five-decade-old multi-million rupee egg and poultry industry, often praised for its entrepreneurial success and global reach, is currently facing losses due to egg surplus. Tamil Nadu produces about five crore eggs per day of which nearly 80 per cent comes from Namakkal.

When asked what caused this crisis, Vangili Subramaniam, the deputy head of the 377-member Tamil Nadu Egg and Poultry Sammelan told The Covai Post, “The cost of chicken feed has increased by 50 -70 per cent or Rs.600 more per sack of feed. The feed’s components – cereals, oil and rice bran – are either grown locally or imported from other states. However egg prices remain constant and we are losing about one rupee per egg. This has affected nearly 1,100 poultry farmers in Namakkal. Our association recently met and requested Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to reduce chicken feed costs and she has promised to look into it.”

He added that nearly 30,000 poultry farmers across India also faced the same situation. Poultry farmers have urged the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) which standardises daily and monthly egg prices, to help them.

K Mohan, the owner of SMM Feeds in Namakkal explained, “We were all basically farmers but due to Namakkal’s aridity, we took to broiler poultry and egg production in the 1970s. We have had government support throughout with subsidies, bank loans and a standardised marketing through NECC. However this feed price rise is eating into our profits, we are losing lakhs every day. I lose Rs.2.5 lakhs everyday, feeding six
lakh chickens. We cannot change the feed as it will affect quality and quantity of these temperature-controlled eggs. Either the government should reduce prices, waiver taxes or at least give soft loans so that we can recoup. Besides this, the NECC should also raise egg prices, as retail prices have remained at four or five rupees per egg for some years now.”

Both Subramaniam and Mohan also blamed poor egg consumption in Tamil Nadu for the surplus. Mohan said, “Foreigners eat three times more eggs than we do. The Government should remove misconception that eggs are non vegetarian because they are products of vegetarian chickens. We welcome continuous egg supply to noon meal schemes and baalwadis.

However government export norms should be certified, particularly to the Middle East, where Indian eggs are often banned for bird flu rumours.” When asked if free range chicken farmers face the same crisis, Ashok Kannan, the owner of Happy Hens Farm, at Mullipatti in Pudukottai says, “No we do not have surplus eggs, but the feed price rise has reduced our profit margins. We add a special herbal formulation to the feed and allow chickens to graze. Our eggs cost five times more than broiler eggs.”

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