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Poultry Sector  Faces Rs.22, 000 crore Loss due to Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the livestock sector in the country hard, with lockdowns impacting the demand. In an interview to BusinessLine, Neeraj Kumar Srivastava, Chairman of CLFMA of India, speaks on the key challenges that the sector faces and how to overcome them to increase revenues for the industry and profitability for farmers.

Ayushi Raina
Neeraj Kumar Srivastava, Chairman of the CLFMA of India
Neeraj Kumar Srivastava, Chairman of the CLFMA of India

The Covid-19 epidemic has had a significant impact on the country's livestock sector, with lockdowns affecting the demand.

Neeraj Kumar Srivastava, Chairman of the CLFMA of India talks about the sector's key challenges and how to solve them in order to improve income for the industry and profitability for farmers. 

Epidemic affected the livestock sector:

Even before India announced the first incidence of Covid-19, rumors about poultry birds being the likely carriers of the virus began to circulate on social media, dramatically decreasing demand for chicken meat in various regions of the country in February-March 2020, and poultry prices fell to Rs.4.5 per kg.

Government intervention and industry awareness campaigns have supported the situation. Even as it was stabilizing, the market had plummeted again in January owing to the bird flu scare. This was followed by a 175% spike in soyameal prices, which significantly impacted farmer profitability. The poultry sector alone is believed to have lost more than 22,000 crore as a result of the impact of Covid-19 and associated lockdowns.

Due to the pandemic, the poultry sector grew by just 2-3% in FY20 (compared to an average annual growth rate of 7-8%), and declined by 4-5% in FY21. 

The sector is anticipated to reach pre-Covid demand levels only by the end of FY22, assuming that Covid-related restraints are lifted and institutional demand recovers. Institutional consumption accounts for more than half of overall demand.

Demand outlook for the animal feed sector in the next 2-3 years:

Srivastava said the demand outlook for the next 2-3 years appears to be excellent. According to a recent survey conducted by the Indian Market Research Bureau, protein deficiency affects more than 80% of the population in the country. Over 135 crore people require approximately 25-30 million tonnes of protein. Livestock supplies 47-56% of protein and 20% of energy requirements, and so plays a significant role in satisfying protein and energy demands.

Major Challenges:

The feed, fodder, and concentrate demand-supply gap is a serious problem. This scarcity is due to increased land demand for producing foodgrains, oilseeds, and pulses, as well as inadequate attention given to fodder crop cultivation.

Green fodder, dry fodder, and concentrates deficits are anticipated to reach 40 million tonnes (mt), 21 million tonnes (mt), and 38 million tonnes (mt) by 2025, respectively.

The occurrence of diseases is another challenge. Diseases are expected to become increasingly common, and biosecurity and control will be a major concern. Skilled labour shortages and low productivity in the dairy industry are other causes for worry.

Suggestions to overcome these challenges and make the sector resilient:

Srivastava said that we need to enhance feed and grain production while utilizing available land and forest areas more efficiently. We should also use technology, such as precision farming, to increase yields on every accessible farm. We should also discover more effective ways to raise meat and implement efficient animal feeding programmes.

He added that we should also limit the use of food crops for biofuels and examine and permit the use of genetically modified grains to enhance per acre production.

We should concentrate our efforts on research, especially on how to offer adequate nutrition while resulting in little nutritional excretion or emission.

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