Poultry sector may cut output

Written by Jaishankar Jayaramiah | Bangalore, Jan 27 | Updated: Jan 28 2008, 05:01am hrs
Indian poultry industry is bracing itself for a production cut for the third time in the last two years on the back of repeated bird flu outbreaks.

According to international protocol, the France-based World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) would notify the avian influenza infected country as a bird flu free region only if the particular nation reports no outbreak of bird flu for a stretch of three months from the time it completes disinfection.

When the out break was witnessed for the first time in Maharastra and Gujarat in February 2006, more than 12 countries imposed ban on the Indian poultry products, resulting the industry to record a loss of Rs 10,500 crore. The losses include the cut in exports and production, dip in prices and culling taken place in affected areas.

While the industry was reviving from its losses, the second outbreak reported in Manipur within 17 months in July 2007, again pushing the industry into red. Although the domestic consumption was not much affected during the Manipur outbreak, the industry witnessed losses due to export cut. Mainly farmers in Namakkal belt in Tamil Nadu, which accounts for 90% of egg exports from the country, recorded a loss of Rs 30-35 lakh per day on cut in egg exports till the overseas countries lifted ban in November.

Now the scene seems to be have turned worse. With the bird flu spreading fast across West Bengal, the poultry farmers have no clue when the country would come out of it. Already eight countries have imposed ban on poultry products and egg exports from Namakkal alone declined to 35 lakh eggs per day from 55-60 lakh eggs, incurring a loss of Rs 40-45 lakh per day. Now the farms across the country maintain around 20-21 crore layer birds, which lay around 15 crore eggs every day. Generally, old layer birds, which lay eggs for around 72 weeks, are replaced by new birds.

But to recover from the losses, industry sources said the poultry farmers have reduced replacing layer birds starting from this week.

In the next two-three months, the farmers would reduce the total birds count by 20-25% to around 15 crore birds, which would lead to a decline in the egg production to 11-12 crore units from the current level.