NECC said that the price of soya meal, which had softened a couple of months ago to Rs 10,000/12,000 per ton, is now ruling at Rs 21,000/23,000 per ton - an increase of almost 100% - mainly on account of speculation and anticipated increase in exports. Similarly, the price of maize also increased from Rs 600-650 last year to more than Rs 1000 per quintal.
This unprecedented increase has happened mainly because of forward trading in maize, speculation and hoarding by traders and MNCs and exports. The increase in price due to forward trading has also not benefited the maize and soya bean farmers, as a majority of the maize/soya farmers are small and marginal farmers, who have no holding capacity, and, the grain was sold by them at much lower prices at harvest time, and the price was subsequently jacked up by the traders and speculators taking advantage of forward trading.
As a result of this unjustifiable increase in the cost of feed ingredients, the break-even level for egg production has gone up from Rs 0.90/1.00 to Rs 2.25 and that of broilers has gone up from Rs 27/28 to Rs 47-48 per kg.
In the absence of a corresponding increase in farm-gate price, thousands of farmers have incurred huge losses. Unable to survive in the face of mounting losses, already 15% of the industry - consisting mainly of small and marginal farmers, has closed down.
While on one hand the recurring declarations of bird flu in backyard farms are hurting the industry, the unprecedented increase in the cost of essential feed ingredients has wiped out the profit margins of the farmers. The economic health of the industry has become unpredictable, and farmers are desperate and unable to buy the replacement flocks.
Over two crore maize farmers and five lakh soya bean farmers are also directly dependant on poultry sector, because more than 80% of the maize and a substantial share of soya meal produced in the country are consumed by the poultry industry. The resultant loss of production of eggs and chicken would push up the retail price of these products, making it unaffordable to the poorer sections among the consumers, and adding further pressure to inflation, which has just recently decreased a bit, from an unacceptably high level.
NECC said that the government should look into these issues seriously, and considering that poultry farming is an important source of income for over three million people and also a vital tool for achieving nutrition security -NECC makes a strong appeal to the government to immediately include soya meal and maize in the list of essential commodities, and place necessary controls on the volumes of stock holding, and price of these commodities, so as to leave no scope for speculation and hoarding.