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AP Poultry industry seeks exemption

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IDLING TIME: A truck driver takes a nap under the chassis of a parked lorry at Kukatpally inter-State lorry stand in Hyderabad on Thursday.

HYDERABAD, April. 17

SEVERELY hit by the ongoing nation-wide strike by transporters, the Rs 4,000-crore poultry industry in Andhra Pradesh has appealed to truck owners to consider the industry as an `emergency service' keeping in view the perishable nature of the produce.

"The four-day-old strike has severely affected the industry which has already been hit by drought and low returns, '' Mr M.P. Seshaiah, President, Andhra Pradesh Poultry Federation (APPF), told newspersons today.

He asked the truck owners to follow neighbouring States of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka where day-old chicks, eggs, birds, feed and feed ingredients were exempted from the purview of the strike.

"Andhra Pradesh chips in one-third of the total egg production and one-tenth of broiler production. Of the 3.5 crore eggs we produce, about two crore eggs are being exported to other States. The industry needs 2,500 trucks a day for transportation of the produce and allied activities,'' Mr Seshaiah said.

"Restriction on movement of feed causes millions of poultry birds to starve and die due to lack of feed. Most of the 15,000 farmers are small and marginal and cannot afford to maintain stocks of poultry feed for more than 3-4 days," he said.

The National Egg Coordination Committee was making efforts at the national level to sort out the issue, he added.

Representatives of the federation met the Minister for Transport and Transport Commissioner and appealed to them to prevail upon the truck owners to exempt the industry from the strike. They also asked the State Government to arrange alternative arrangements for the transportation of the produce and feed.

The Poultry Breeders Association (AP), too, is feeling the heat. "Nearly five lakh chicks are being despatched to farmers every day. The cyclical nature of chick production leaves us no option but to despatch the produce to farmers or see them perish, thanks to the absence of transportation,'' Mr M. Damoder Reddy, the PBA President, said. "We urge them to allow factory-owned trucks to move on," he said.

Mr D. Sudhakar, the General Secretary, APPF, said the strike was untimely as far as the poultry industry was concerned.

The industry also feared raise of egg price. "It has already gone up to Rs 1.75 an egg from Rs 1.50. It may go up further,'' said an APPF member. "And when it ends, producers may be forced to go for distress sales thanks to the accumulation of eggs over a period of time,'' he said.

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