The coronavirus outbreak and the consequent lockdown have pushed the poultry sector in the country into a crisis with losses projected at Rs 22,500 crore beginning February this year, prompting the apex body of poultry breeders to seek Centre’s intervention to bail it out.

The All India Poultry Breeders Association (AIPBA) has sought restructuring of loans, interest subvention among others from the Narendra Modi-led government to help the industry tide over the crisis.

Vice President of the Association, Suresh Chitturi said the industry suffered heavily, beginning February, owing to false information linking coronavirus to the consumption of chicken and eggs and subsequently due to problems in movement of poultry during the lockout.

“Rumours began doing rounds in the first week of February, which affected us very badly. Some people spread false information that chicken and eggs should not be consumed. The adverse impact continued for about six weeks,” Chitturi told PTI here.

Though the poultry industry recovered a bit following the clarification issued by them that eating chickens were safe, issues relating to the inter-state movement of eggs and chickens at various parts of the country hurt the sector, he claimed.

According to the Association, the industry employs more than 10 lakh poultry farmers and contributes Rs 1.3 lakh crore to the country’s GDP directly.

The sector provides a direct benefit to more than one crore maize and soya agriculture farmers.

Poultry farming offers direct and indirect employment to over five crore Indian citizens engaged in poultry production, trading, feed manufacturing, agriculture crops, logistics, exports and others.

The AIPBA has submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 30 seeking “urgent financial assistance and rescue package” from the Centre.

Chitturi said the Association requested a restructuring of loans allowing conversion of existing working capital loans cash credit (CC) limits to term loans with two years moratorium. He said the Association also requested the government for interest subvention and issuing fresh working capital.

All small farmers with less than 20,000 capacity farms should be provided with a compensation of Rs 100 per bird based on their chicks’ purchase bill paid through banking transactions, the Association said in the memorandum.

The AIPBA appealed to the Centre to provide wheat and rice of ‘Feed Grade’ from the old stock of government at a subsidized rate of Rs 10 per kg.

It further sought exemption of GST on Soya Seed and Soya Meal which has added to the input cost on livestock feed to the farmers. The total loss to the poultry industry in two-and-half-months beginning February this year was pegged at Rs 22,500 crore.

“The current 2.5 months loss of poultry industry (broiler farmers and layer farmers, Integration companies and breeding companies) beginning February 1 to April 15, 2020, until the lockdown opens is of INR 22,500 CR,” the poultry breeder’s said.

On the current market scenario, the memorandum said poultry birds were being sold at a price of Rs 10 to Rs 30 per kg at the Farm Gate level due to fake news regarding Coronavirus. Noting that the production cost of poultry in India was Rs 80 per kg, the Association stated that the prices of eggs have plunged to two rupees per egg at Farm Gate.

It pointed out that the cost of production of egg on an average was four rupees per egg, it said.

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