Coronavirus outbreak in India has severely impacted sales of poultry products with many consumers giving chicken and eggs a miss on their grocery list. Poultry industry insiders say they weren't expecting such an impact on sales.
"The Indian poultry industry is losing around Rs 1100 crore every week or about Rs 160 crore everyday," says Suresh Chitturi, vice chairman of the All India Poultry Breeders Association and also the vice chairman and managing director of Hyderabad-headquartered Srinivasa Farms, with presence across 16 states in India supplying 5 crore chicks to farmers every year.
He says, the industry has made a representation to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman and is seeking an appointment to apprise her of the challenges faced by the industry. As an industry, the weekly loss today is to the tune of around Rs 200 crore from fall in egg prices and Rs 900 crore on account of lower prices of birds and reduced sales.
In a letter to the finance minister, the poultry industry, led by Bahadur Ali, chairman, All India Poultry Breeders Association, who is also the founder and MD of IB Group, has said: "Unfortunately, due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus in China and related developments which is beyond the poultry farmers, has created massive crisis and forced poultry sector to bankruptcy."
Attributing it to what he calls, "the fake novel coronavirus threat spread by social media among the consumers" that has "created massive problem and devastated the poultry sector." The farm gate realisation prices of eggs has now plunged to Rs 2.50 per egg against the cost of production of close to Rs 4.00 per egg, the note says.
In February alone, the egg poultry farmers lost Rs 600 crore. This is on top of the challenges of rising cost of production that they were already coping with. Today, it further says, "the situation is worse than the last two bird flu hits in 2006 and 2010."
Seeking a rescue package for the poultry sector, Chitturi says, "We are requesting the government for an interest subvention, conversion of existing working capital loans to term loans with 2 years moratorium for payback and issuing fresh working capital. This will help the industry tide over the current crisis."
The Indian poultry sector, he says, today contributes Rs 1.2 lakh crore to India's GDP and is a major provider of livelihood and therefore crucial for the country, which produces 25 crore eggs and 1.3 crore birds per day.