After the drop in commodities prices, it is now the turn of broiler chicken to be affected. The rates have started a southward movement in Kerala, reporting a 35 per cent drop in a week.
Farm gate price of live birds is hovering in the range of ₹97-99 per kg against ₹150 in April 17 and farmers rearing broiler chicken attributed the factors to the subdued consumer demand in the Covid-19 pandemic period.
The major impact for them is the subdued demand from Ramdan Iftars in which the consumption has come down by almost 50 per cent in the wake of restrictions in organising group receptions by religious organisations as part of concluding the fasting. Catering to the Ramadan demand, majority farmers have reared enough stock of live chicken and they are now forced to feed these birds amid spiralling feed prices.
Kerala’s broiler chicken sale is estimated at one crore kg per week at an estimated value of ₹100 crore and this has come down by about 40 per cent, says Binny Emmatty, president of Poultry Farmers and Traders Samithy. Of this, 50 per cent of the production is met from the State itself and the balance is sourced from neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, he said adding that these states are also facing diminishing sales.
According to him, the Covid-19 induced restrictions have hindered people from venturing out for dining and recreation. This has hit the sales in many restaurants especially because of the night curfew, forcing the eateries to down their shutters by 8 pm. Besides, limiting the attendance in weddings and functions also facilitated a decline in broiler chicken sales in a big way. The imposition of fresh restrictions is likely to worsen the situation in the coming days, he said.
TP Sethumadhavan, Deputy Director, Animal husbandry Department, said the south Indian broiler chicken market was heavily affected by the price drop with the onset of second wave of Covid-19 across the country. The pandemic induced lockdown, reduced consumption during summer, decline in the purchasing power of people and a subdued market demand all have precipitated the situation.
The emerging situation, he said, will affect poultry farmers and entrepreneurs. If this situation continues, broiler chicken growers may face acute financial stress and they may fail to repay the farm loans. The need of the hour is interest subvention of the farm loans and moratorium on loan repayment including subsidy for poultry feed.
The decline in demand may compel the farmers to rear birds for more days, thus increasing the cost of production, which now stood at ₹90 per kg. Moreover, feed prices are also on an increasing trend, he said adding that the scarcity of raw materials affects production of feed. Feed prices stood at ₹30-35 per kg.