India’s poultry sector is growing at 8-10 per cent annually but is hampered by a shortage of talent. There are two main reasons for this: lack of awareness about the available job opportunity; and lack of interest in the sector among jobseekers, said S Harish, Chief Human Resources Officer  of Coimbatore-based poultry group Suguna Holdings Pvt Ltd.

Many students, even in rural areas, hesitate to enter the industry as they don’t consider it lucrative. However, every profession has its own charm, Harish told BusinessLine. That’s why the Suguna group started the Suguna Institute of Poultry Management (SIPM) in 2012 to help meet its own staff requirement as well as that of others in the industry. The need is for professionals who can understand and support the techno-commercial aspects of poultry, he said..

Around 2,600 students have passed out of the institute till date and they have been hired by the group. Around 10 students have gone to the US as part of an internship through the Agri Skill Council of India, he said. “We want more students to take up the profession,” he added.

“We estimate that, annually, around 5 lakh professionals can enter the industry. Tamil Nadu alone would require around 40,000 students every year, but very few come forward,” he said. There are nearly 1,000 major players at the national level, besides several at the zonal and regional levels, he said. “Everybody is looking for talent,” he added.

The demand for workforce is across all sectors of the poultry industry, including farming management, hatchery management, breeder management, feed, and production. Even the allied industries like feed nutrition manufacturers and animal life sciences are in need of talent, he said.

A few years ago, people would ask why anyone should join hotel management studies “just to learn cooking”, he said, likening it to the prevailing attitude towards poultry. People assume poulty is only to do with farming, without realising the many opportunities that lie beyond it, such as hatchery management, which is technology-intensive, and feed management, which entails knowledge of mixes and pre-mixes, he explained.

“We are doing campaigns in schools, conveying the message that poultry provides good job opportunities. Students need not go to the cities to build their career. This is one industry where a student can remain in a rural town and be successful,” he added.

SIPM offers two programmes: BSc and a diploma. Each year, the institute admits 500 students from various states, including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala, he said.

The Indian poultry market was valued at ₹1,70,800 crore in 2021. The IMARC Group expects this to touch ₹3,17,000 crore by 2027, a 10.50 per cent increase.