Already reeling under losses due to poor sales last year and a month of suspended business in the second wave of the COVID19 pandemic, the poultry farmers in Uttar Pradesh are waiting to restart their business from tomorrow, June 1. More details here.
When the lockdown-like restrictions were imposed in Uttar Pradesh on April 30, meat and egg shops were not allowed to operate, causing anxiety to poultry farmers.
An unusual silence pervades at Mohammad Abid’s farmhouse in Malihabad which otherwise was recognised by the cacophony of his 5,000 chickens.
Situated at a distance of about 30 kilometres from Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow, Malihabad is home to many poultry farmers like Abid who have witnessed a complete suspension of their business as an aftermath of the second wave of COVID19. “We had about 5,000 broiler chickens before the corona pandemic struck,” the 42-year-old poultry farmer told Gaon Connection.
“While I was lucky enough to sell the stock, the second wave of Corona arrived shortly after. I did not dare buy new chickens because I had already suffered significant losses in the previous year,” he added.
After Uttar Pradesh announced ‘Corona-curfew’ on April 30, the poultry sector in the state came to a standstill and farmers like Abid chose not to raise fresh stock of chickens.
But with fall in COVID19 cases, the state government has now announced an easing of the restrictions from tomorrow i.e. June 1 and chicken and poultry shops will be allowed to be opened in 55 districts in the state that have less than 600 active COVID19 cases.
The 20 districts with more than 600 active COVID19 cases are Meerut, Lucknow, Saharanpur, Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Muzaffarnagar, Bareilly, Gautam Budh Nagar, Bulandshahr, Jhansi, Prayagraj, Lakhimpur Kheri, Sonbhadra, Jaunpur, Baghpat, Moradabad, Ghazipur, Bijnor and Deoria.
Thousands of poultry farmers like Abid are now expecting the business to gradually return to pre-pandemic levels.
On May 10, Atul Chaturvedi, Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India, had written a letter to the state Chief Secretaries.
The letter requested that fish, poultry, mutton, and eggs be included in the list of essential commodities. It also sought permission for the opening of shops. According to the letter, in addition to being a key source of protein, poultry is also a means of livelihood for millions of people.
“Whatever chicken is being sold is sold secretly. While the consumers are currently buying chicken at high prices, the farmer cannot recover his cost as he is forced to sell at low prices to the suppliers,” Sheikh added.
FM Sheikh, president of the Poultry Farmer (Broiler) Welfare Federation told Gaon Connection on May 27, “There is no permission for poultry business. As a result, whatever chicken is being sold is sold secretly. While the consumers are currently buying chicken at high prices, the farmer cannot recover his cost as he is forced to sell at low prices to the suppliers.”
Sheikh also shed light on the plight of the poultry farmers in the last one year. “Poultry farmers have been hit by four disasters in the last 14 months. The previous year saw Corona, the following year saw bird flu in January-February 2021, the third was rise in poultry feed prices, and the fourth is the ongoing second wave of Corona,” Sheikh said.
Sanjay Sharma runs a poultry farm with a maximum capacity of 75 thousand birds in Punjab’s Ludhiana. He has about 20 thousand broilers left now due to continuous losses.
“The scenario is the same everywhere; first, there was a massive loss due to excessive poultry feed prices. There is now additional loss in the second wave of lockdown and Corona. A broiler costs Rs 90-95 to raise. There is currently no business at all,” he told Gaon Connection.
Also Read: And now a price hike in poultry feed…
“As the number of cases decreases and the situation improves, permission to operate chicken shops should be granted by following the Corona Protocols. There used to be a lot of sales when the hotel and restaurant were operational, but they’re all shut down. In such a situation, what can anybody do?” Sharma added.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Andhra Pradesh tops the major poultry meat-producing states in the country, followed by West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. The earnings of poultry farmers in these states have collapsed due to the closure of the hotels, restaurants and markets.
Experts state that chicken and eggs are a cost-effective protein source that boost immunity during the Covid crisis, and help the body recover from infection. Poultry products are also an effective way to increase immunity and prevent vaccine stress.
“We have urged the government of Uttar Pradesh by letter and email on April 26, May 13, and May 19, requesting it to adopt a scientific approach toward the benefits of chicken and eggs,” Sheikh, the president of the poultry farmers’ welfare organisation, informed.
“The government should recognise their advantages in the interest of consumers, poultry farmers and agriculture farmers and promptly issue an order to boost the poultry business by including chicken and eggs in the list of essential commodities,” he added.