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Domestic Poultry Under Crisis If Govt Reduces Import Duty On Chicken Legs From USA
This sector generates direct employment to over 2 million small and marginal farmers in the interior rural villages and indirectly to over 5 million rural households.
Photo Credit : Reuters
The Poultry Farming Community has requested the Prime Minister of India, not to contemplate the reduction in the Import Duty on chicken legs from present 100 per cent to 30 per cent as reported in the media, under pressure from the USA. It will affect millions of poultry farmers across the country including the interior villages and take away their livelihood and badly affect Maize and Soyabean farmers of the country.
The contribution of poultry products to the Indian GDP is estimated to be over Rs 1,00,000 crores per annum and India is the 2nd largest producer of eggs in the world with production of 88 billion eggs p.a. as per GOI statistics (next to China) and 3rd in the world for broilers (after USA and China) and is the only country having a consistent growth in the Agriculture & allied sector at 7 per cent to 8 per cent p.a., for the last three decades. This sector generates direct employment to over 2 million small and marginal farmers in the interior rural villages and indirectly to over 5 million rural households.
World Health Organization recommends consumption of eggs and chicken for removal of protein malnutrition and partial blindness prevailing widely amongst rural poor in India. Our per capita consumption is only 68 eggs and 3.5 kgs chicken way below the NIN recommendation of 180 eggs and 11 kg chicken. For healthy India, there is actually a need for encouragement of domestic poultry to grow rapidly and meet the targeted requirement. India is completely self-reliant for poultry technology with internationally acclaimed domestic breeds, world-class technology for production of vaccines and medicines and unlike West, providing employment for millions in villages.
According to Dr G. Ranjith Reddy, President, Telangana Poultry Breeders Association (TPBA), Member of Parliament & CMD - SR Hatcheries, "Prime Minister of India is motivating the farmers to move towards non-crop activities like poultry and other livestock products for better income to reduce pressure on land and irrigation and in effort to double the farmers income .. According to the media sources, under pressure from the USA, Government of India is being forced to reduce the duties on import of Chicken Legs from the prevailing rate of 100 per cent to 30 per cent along with Bourbon Whiskey and Harley Davidson Motorbikes. This reduction in customs duty will not only destroy Indian Poultry Industry but also the Soybean and Maize Growers as well because, as the Poultry is the main consumer for Maize and Soya meal. Thus the Corn and Soya meal prices will crash and we cannot compete in International market for these crops due to lower price as a result of huge farm subsidies given in USA / Brazil for Corn and Soybean (CBOT prices for Corn is USD 170/175 i.e. Rs.12,000 per MT against Rs 18,600MSP in India and De Oiled SOYA Cake of USD 325 i.e. Rs 24,000 against Rs.32,000 in India). This will badly affect the farming community defeating the objective of Doubling the Farmers income. In a country, where there are very limited options for Rainfed cropping, Maize and Soyabean are best suited covering approximately 79 and 112 Lakh hectares respectively in Kharif and this will cause huge unrest among farmers as there is no alternative crop for a vast number of Maize and Soyabean producers." These are the major factors to be considered by Govt. against the reduction of import duty on chicken legs from USA / Brazil at reduced tariff into India.
Breast meat of chicken, is sold at a premium price in the USA and chicken legs find no preference and is a by-product for them, hence the US is trying to dump at a throwaway price in India which will create an adverse sentiment in domestic market resulting in loss of livelihood and puts lakhs of farmers to insurmountable financial difficulties. Indian farmers shall not get a level playing field as the poultry industry in USA / Brazil enjoy indirect subsidies on their inputs like Corn and Soya which are substantially cheaper and dump their unwanted chicken legs, while the domestic poultry has to pay relatively much higher prices for Maize and Soya to support the MSP declared by the Government. Thus the domestic poultry farmers will wither away due to dumping by their western counterparts at throwaway prices. The other consideration to bear in mind as pork fat, beef tallow, rendered beef, bone and blood are part of poultry feed ingredients In USA and Brazil which will very seriously hurt the sentiment of consumers in India as it is against the practices and beliefs in India. The Government will face huge backlash and consumers will be up in arms if animal sources for feed ingredients are brought to public knowledge. Further the US chicken legs are kept frozen for long periods before shipping and shall come without any traceability as Salmonella and other health hazards were reported earlier in countries like EU / UK / Netherlands / Saudi Arabia / South Africa who allowed imports under pressure and later partially / completely banned the same under“ deficiencies detected in the Brazilian official control system”.
The poultry farmers are supported with loans from banks all over the country and the investments totalling to little over Rs 1,00,000 crores will under jeopardy by putting the banking industry also under further stress due to insurmountable losses resulting in default on loan repayments.
Dr Reddy added, "We would appeal to Govt. not to succumb to the pressure but continue the present import duty of 100 per cent on Chicken Legs, so as to protect the livelihood of millions of poultry farmers and the maize and soyabean farmers who indirectly depend on this industry and to ensure the stability and future growth of our domestic poultry farming, and to safeguard the religious interests of the consumers."