G. Gurumurthy

Coimbatore, Feb. 26

The Tamil Nadu poultry industry has approached the Union Government to reschedule the loans extended to the sector by the banks and financial institutions in view of the loss caused by the avian flu outbreak.

The industry in a representation to the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, had asked the Ministry to take it up with the Finance Ministry to press for this relief. It had also asked for a moratorium, extension of repayment of advances and also a cut in the interest rate considering the huge financial loss the sector had to suffer in the light of the bird disease reports.

According to the All-India Poultry Products Exporters Association, the Namakkal-based poultry body, hundreds of poultry farms in Tamil Nadu had to suffer severe financial losses on account of fall in demand for eggs and broilers due to the fear psychosis caused by the reports of bird virus, although the State is free from the disease.

The crisis has reached a point where the poultry farmers in the State can neither continue feeding the birds in their farms nor cull them (in view of the non-movement of chicken and eggs) as both would ruin them. "Till the crisis ends and market recover, there is an urgent need for infusing additional working capital for the poultry farmers to tackle the financial crisis," Mr P. Valsan, Secretary of the association, said.

The representatives of the association, according to Mr Valsan, who met the officials of the Union Agriculture and Commerce Ministries earlier in the week to explain the difficulties faced by the poultry farmers and the trade, said the crisis had hit the sector at a time when its export revenue touched Rs 250 crore.

This industry has been funded around Rs 2,000 crore by the banks and financial institutions directly and indirectly which is at stake in view of the latest crisis. The representation had in this regard asked the Commerce ministry to expeditiously release the pending freight subsidy for the poultry exports made in 2004-05 fiscal. Similarly, it has also appealed to the Centre to impress upon the railways, airlines and defence to restart serving dishes containing eggs and broilers to instil confidence among the consumers.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 27, 2006)
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