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Egg exports to Gulf hit on N-E bird flu outbreak

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Setback at a time when farmers are overcoming a tough period.

Gayathri G

Chennai, Dec. 2 The bird flu scare in the north-east has affected the table egg exports from Namakkal to a few Gulf nations once again.

‘BIRD-FLU-FREE’

During the past month, egg export industry recovered as countries such as Muscat lifted ban on imports from India after the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) declared India a bird flu-free country, according to a top official in National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC). “As soon as the news of birdflu outbreak in India spread, Muscat rejected a consignment of eggs from Namakkal on Sunday,” the official said.

Namakkal exports around 15-20 lakh eggs to Muscat daily. Egg exporters in South India, mainly Namakkal — the poultry hub — who contribute nearly 90 per cent of exports, fear that their business may be hit. During every outbreak of bird flu in other States, the poultry export industry in Tamil Nadu incurs a loss of over Rs 500 crore.

“We are paying a heavy price every time avian flu outbreak is reported in far off States such as Maharashtra or Manipur. It is high time the Central and State Governments resorted to zoning and saved our businesses,” the NECC official said.

Relief to farmers

The development comes at a time when a continuous rise in egg price has brought some relief to the 800-odd poultry farmers in Namakkal who had gone through tough times for the last ten months. This includes fighting numerous issues including the ban on imports from India by West Asia in the wake of bird flu in Manipur and rising feed costs.

Starting with Rs 1.85 a piece in early October, the prices increased to a record Rs 2.40 a piece in November and are currently hovering at Rs 2.19 an egg.

The production cost of an egg shot up due to increased feed costs. Layer feed rate for the year 2008 (till October) was ruling at Rs 964.56 for 75 kg as against Rs 926.21 for the same period a year ago, data available with the National Egg Coordination Committee indicated.

Egg production from this poultry hub for the period under review increased marginally to 2.43 crore a day (2.39 crore).

Dip in maize price

A farmer told Business Line that although maize prices declined to Rs 817 a quintal, it was still higher than last year’s Rs 650-660.

“But this bullish trend in egg and broiler prices helped us to payback our loans/debts and resulted in a reasonable/better price realisation.”

Loss of over Rs 100-cr

The industry that has suffered a whopping loss of more than Rs 100 crore in the past 10 months had resumed exports to Gulf countries. Monthly shipments for the period under review stood at 8 crore this year as against 10 crore during the same period in 2007.

Similarly, broiler prices too posted an increase this year (till October) vis-À-vis last year.

With the increase in feed price, maize being the prime ingredient, broiler rates till October this year were ruling at Rs 47.50/kg as against Rs 43.24/kg.

Broiler feed prices touched a high of Rs 1,550 for 75 kg as against Rs 1,171. While cull birds ruled at Rs 41.35/kg as against Rs 34.79 in 2007.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 3, 2008)
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