Maharashtra, Karnataka poultry farmers seek maize imports from government quotas

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Pune | Published: August 8, 2019 2:06:20 AM

India reported around 20% dip in maize production due to drought and attack of the new pest, Fall Army Worm (FAW). Top agriculture officials stated that as per current reports received from various districts, early infestation has been observed in around 10-11 districts in western Maharashtra and Marathwada region of the state.

Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association, KPFBA, Union minister for agriculture and farmers welfare, small and medium poultry farmers, poultry farmers, Malegaon Taluka Layer Poultry Egg Producers, National Egg Coordination Committee, NECC The farmers also want the Centre should increase import quotas of raw material, restructure the short and long-term loans given to farmers and bring back the subsidy that was scrapped by the government. (Reuters)

With the shortfall in production of maize and also due to skewed import of the crop, many small and medium poultry farmers in Maharashtra, Karnataka and other states are in distress, thus affecting production of eggs and poultry.

Fearing that the situation might worsen, the Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association (KPFBA) has urged the Union minister for agriculture and farmers welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, to immediately allow import of maize, specifically for the small and medium poultry farmers.

Maharashtra poultry farmers, led by the Pune unit of the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) and Malegaon Taluka Layer Poultry Egg Producers, met animal husbandry minister Mahadev Jankar, seeking concessional rates for maize and wheat from government quotas on the lines of decision taken by the government in Telangana.

The farmers also want the Centre should increase import quotas of raw material, restructure the short and long-term loans given to farmers and bring back the subsidy that was scrapped by the government. The government should also include eggs in the mid-day meals of school children as done by the government of Tamil Nadu, said the delegation that met the minister.

Sham Bhagat, president of the Pune unit of National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC), said the production of maize has been affected due to the attack of the American Fall Army Worm. The cost of production of eggs and broilers has gone up during the last six months, resulting in losses for the poultry sector.

Prices of eggs have gone up from `3.25 to `4.10 per piece, up by 30%, he said, adding that farmers have feed stocks only for one and half months. Soyabean prices have increased by 12 % in the past month to `3,900 a quintal, traders said. Maharashtra produces around 1.25 lakh eggs on a daily basis and some 30,000 farmers are involved in the production of eggs.

India reported around 20% dip in maize production due to drought and attack of the new pest, Fall Army Worm (FAW). Top agriculture officials stated that as per current reports received from various districts, early infestation has been observed in around 10-11 districts in western Maharashtra and Marathwada region of the state. These include some 28 talukas. Maize is cultivated on some 7 lakh hectare in Maharashtra and nearly 10% of the crop has been affected.

In a letter addressed to the minister, the President of KPFBA, Akhilesh Babu has urged the government to import maize (feed grade) to resolve the problems of small and medium farmers. About 17 small and medium broiler poultry farmers had applied for import of 61,050 metric tonne, while one major player alone had applied for 50,000 MT to the MMTC (Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation) which Babu said was not a ‘fair proportion’. The government, he added, should come to the immediate rescue of the small and medium poultry farmers.

Bhagat agreed and pointed out that while the government had allowed imports of 4 lakh tonne of maize six months ago, no imports have taken place. The biggest worry for the poultry players is there’s unlikely to be any respite from higher feed prices over the next 5-6 months, when the new maize crop arrives into the market.

The KPFBA president pointed out that the Directorate General of Foreign Trade had allowed import of 50,000 MT each to both MMTC and Nafed (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation), but these imports may not reach the small and medium farmers. These two organisations have floated global tenders separately to source non-genetically modified organism (GMO) maize to be used by poultry farmers.

The KPFBA has suggested that there should be common allotment in consultation with each other, thus giving equal opportunity to all applicants. In Karnataka, all the small and medium poultry farmers had applied in April 2019 for import of non-GMO maize under TRQ (tariff rate quota) scheme through the KPFBA paying the prescribed fee of `18.5 per tonne to MMTC. A few big players have also applied for import of maize in large volumes. The KPFBA fears that the big players may get all the maize, leaving nothing for the small and medium poultry farmers.

Meanwhile, the KPFBA has got to know from its sources that the MMTC has not received the expected response from global suppliers for the tender floated, thus adding to the stress levels of farmers who have stopped placing chicks due to non-availability of maize. The small and medium farmers for whom poultry is a livelihood are in severe distress.

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