Chicken prices nosedive in Kerala

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on March 09, 2020

Kerala becomes a dumping ground as other States dump their poultry due to rumours associated with coronavirus

Kerala’s chicken lovers can add more dishes to their menu as broiler chicken prices are dwindling.

Traders attribute the price drop to dumping of live birds at throwaway prices from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra following social media rumours connected with coronavirus and chicken consumption.

Moreover, the outbreak of bird flu in Kozhikode is also contributing to the decline, which is around 40 per cent.

The live chicken rates have come down to ₹49 per kg, while the farm gate price is hovering at ₹25-30, putting 3 lakh odd poultry farmers in dire straits.

‘Heavy loss’

The declining prices has come at a time when the production cost, which includes medicine, feed, labour cost, has gone up to ₹75-85 per kg, said Binny Emmatty, president of Poultry Farmers and Traders Samithy.

“Poultry entrepreneurs cannot survive this huge loss without adequate compensation from the government, especially when the State consumes nearly 10 million kg of chicken every week,” he told BusinessLine.

Following the outbreak of bird flu, it was decided to cull nearly 13,000 birds within one km radius, which is expected to be completed by March 10.

Since the outbreak of bird flu was reported among backward layer birds, it would also affect egg consumption. The per capita egg consumption in the State is higher at 75 per year than the national average. The per capita consumption of chicken, according to NSSO, is around 15 gm per day whereas the requirement is around 30 gm, said TP Sethumadhavan, former Director of Entrepreneurship, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.

According to him, Kerala has achieved substantial growth in broiler production during the last decade, compared with livestock ventures. The State could produce enough chicken to meet nearly 80 per cent of the domestic demand. But over the years, the cost of production has increased due to rising and variable cost of inputs such as chicks and feed that constitute 95 per cent of the cost of production.

Even though the cost of day-old chick came down to ₹10-15 after the outbreak of the virus, the feed price rose substantially due to the scarcity of raw materials for feed production. The average feed requirement for producing 1 kg chicken is 1.9 kg, he said.

However, other red meat prices remained at the same level without any fluctuations. The Lent season has also dampened the sales of meat in Kerala, a trader said.

Published on March 09, 2020

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