Farmers blamed increased costs of feed as well as those of power, transportation, labour and medicines for the losses
Poultry farm owners in eastern Uttar Pradesh want the state government to intervene quickly and save their businesses, which they say are suffering due to a number of factors.
The primary reason being cited is the increase in minimum support price (MSP) of maize and soya bean, which are used as poultry feed. Other causes include an increase in the cost of electricity, transportation, labour and medicines.
A poultry farm where chickens are reared primarily for the purpose of eggs is called a ‘layer farm’. The birds are colloquially called ‘layer’ or ‘egger’. A bird generally lays one egg a day.
Iqbal Ahmed has a layer farm with 30,000 chickens in Gorakhpur. The farm produces 30,000 eggs in a day. He claimed to be been losing Rs 30,000 a day since March, which is, a rupee on each egg.
It was in 2013 that the then-Akhilesh Yadav government had framed a policy to increase egg and meat production in the state and provide livelihood to the unemployed. The state government provided subsidy on land and loans at nominal interest.
Many people, especially in eastern Uttar Pradesh, found the scheme lucrative and set up layer farms in the districts of Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Devariya and Maharajgunj. The size of the farms varied. Some had 10,000 birds, others up to one lakh.
“Uttar Pradesh is a state where maize and soya bean is grown in abundance. It was obvious that layer farmers in the state used maize and soya bean as feed and it was available at Rs 19 per kilogram,” said Ahmed.
“But the state government this March increased the MSP of maize and soya bean and now the feed costs Rs 25 per kilogram. That hike in feed price has ruined our business,” he added.
According to Ahmed, if every expenditure like cost of the bird, feed, medicines, interest on loan, electricity, labour, transportation is taken into account, then the cost of one egg comes to Rs 4.25. “But the cost of one egg in the wholesale market is Rs 3.25,” he said.
There are many major egg-production centres in India. Prices of eggs throughout the country are decided in those centres. The price in north India is fixed in Barwala, in Hisar district of Haryana.
“It is not necessary that the production cost is uniform throughout the country. Farmers in other parts of the country use bajra that is cheaper than maize or soya bean, as feed. Electricity is cheaper in other states compared to Uttar Pradesh. The production cost of an egg is lower in Haryana but we are suffering as Barwala is deciding the price,” said Ahmed who is the secretary of an association named Purvanchal Andaa Utpaadak Krishak Kalyan Samiti.
Barwala is an old egg-production centre and produces one crore eggs in a day.
Ahmed said the wholesale dealers of eggs had an upper hand in the trade and layer farm owners were helpless against them. “We are forced to sell eggs to the wholesale dealers in Uttar Pradesh at the price that Barwala quotes. We can’t do anything,” he said.
Ahmed said if things do not improve then the only option will be left before the farm owners will be to wind up their business and sell the birds for meat.
Farm owners recently took out a rally and urged the state government to take steps to save the farms.
“Our government should ensure that Uttar Pradesh and not Barwala in Haryana decide the price of eggs,” Avdhesh Jaiswal, president of Purvanchal Andaa Utpaadak Krishak Kalyan Samiti, said.
“Prices of maize and soya bean should be reduced or we should be provided feed at subsidised rate. The government should declare Minimum Support Price for eggs as well,” he added.
According to Jaiswal, the government should include eggs in mid-day meals in schools and also give them to prisoners in jails. “This can save the poultry farms from closure,” said Jaiswal.
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